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Probing the Muslim mind

Shoukath Aryadan's `Daivathinte Namathil' highlights the tussle between moderate and fundamentalist elements in the Muslim community in Kerala.



The protagonist of `Daivathinte Namathil' is a woman, ably enacted by Bhavana.

SHOUKATH ARYADAN, whose `Padom Onnu: Oru Vilapam' won critical acclaim and a few national awards, has now scripted `Daivathinte Namathil' (In the Name of God), which is likely to be debated owing to the issues it seeks to raise. It is a film that seeks to examine the Muslim mind in Kerala in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Majid.

Political undertones

The film has its political undertones, no doubt. At a certain point, it draws the viewers' attention to the singular changes taking place in the lives of ordinary people who get swayed by new influences. It highlights the tussle between moderate and fundamentalist elements in the community. The moderates, better known in Malabar as Nationalist Muslims, were the ones who were driven by the nationalist fervour. For them religion is a private affair, while secularism a public domain.

Shoukath, who is the son of Congress leader Aryadan Mohammed, has written the dialogues for the film and he is the producer too.

He admits that his proximity to contemporary Kerala politics has enabled him to view society in a clearer perspective. "Of course, I have been influenced by my father." Aryadan Mohammed is Power Minister in the Oommen Chandy Government.

Explains Shoukath, "This is not a political film. This is a social commentary." It is very different from `Padom Onnu: Oru Vilapam,' which focussed on the evil of child marriage in the Muslim community.

The protagonist of `Daivathinte Namathil' is a woman. It is through her that he seeks to express his views. His main characters draw heavily from the teachings of Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad.

Message

Shoukath tries to convey the message that Islam and Islamic fundamentalism are on parallel tracks.

"In the process, the liberal voice is getting fainter. The moderates are in a dilemma. For the clerics, religion is merely a tool to exercise power. Only those steeped in religious knowledge would understand the greatness of love and compassion," he observes.

Jayaraj is the director. Prithviraj and Bhavana don the lead roles. Novices Mammootty and Mariathatha are new faces and they provide an authentic touch as they enact their real-life roles. Mariathatha is said to be one of the first Muslim women in Malabar to be educated in English.

"I am not concerned about the commercial success of the film," says Shoukath. "I have made a honest attempt to tell my story. I am confident that the message would transcend the shores of Kerala," he adds.

GIRISH MENON

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