varnachitram

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Historical inaccuracies in Urumi

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By Arun Mohan

See, there are several historical pitfalls as deep as a bore, which any history knowing person will understand. The advantage Urumi has is that, 99% of Malayalees donot know our own history, atleast pre-1857, whereas most of them study and learn about Mughal and Rajput histories. Even our own state curriculum donot teaches where is Kolathanadu and Arakkal and its relation with Samoothiri.

Let me tell, there is a big mistake in first few scenes. Chirakkal is just a place or city that used to be capital of Kolathunadu Kingdom and until arrival of Dutch in 17th century, people used to refer the term Kolathiri instead of Chirakkal. In opening scene, we are shown Arya as Chirakkal Kotuval. But the script didn’t explain the relation between Chirakkal Kotuval and Kolathiri Royal family. As a result, the question whether Kelu Nayanar is part of Kolathiri family is unanswered. In first few scenes, we are made to understand that Krishnadas, the character Prithiviraj plays as modern is of royal heir and hence one needs to believe Kelu Nayanar was part of Kolathiri dynasty. However how can a- “Nayanar” (NAIR for Malabar area) become part of famous Mooshika Kshyatriya dynasty of Kolathiri. As per Nair traditions, its Marumakathayam, which means caste has to be inherited from Mother, not father. If Kelu Nayanar is from Chirakkal Royal House, naturally Krishnadas won’t be a heir today, as per Maternal law of Kerala, its nephews who inherit, not children.

Secondly the ship burning incident is from real incident when Vasco Da Gama came in 1502 as revenge against Zamorin (Samoothiri) for burning down Portuguese factory in Kozhikode killing 1500 Portuguese people. The ship Miri was bound to Calicut and it was hijacked near Kozhikode Beach to bring Samoothiri to negotiating table. So from where Kotuval of Chirakkal comes into picture. The script writer doesn’t appreciate the 100 km distance between Chirakkal and Kozhikode nor justify the amazing power of Kotuval to fly from Kannur to Kozhikode to attack Gama’s ship.

Throughout the history of Kerala, Kolathiri was the most powerful ally of Portuguese, after Kochi. Even in 1502 when Gama came to attack Kozhikode, he first visited Kolathunadu and signed in treaty to establish the Kannur Factory (the modern St.Angelo’s fort). So how in the movie, Chirakkal shown in odds with Portuguese. It was only by late 16th century, Kolathiri turned against Portuguese when Chirakkal and Kozhikode signed in peace treaty.

The surprising factor is that Arakkal kingdom has never been odds with Kolathiri in its five century long history. Perhaps, it was the Kolathiri himself, who created Arrakkal kingdom to allow his daughter who was married to Muslim to enjoy regal status. Ever since that, two royal families were in strong relations to each other and for several age old customs, members of both families has to jointly perform. Kolathiri family considers Arrakkal as its 3rd branch as the dynasty has 5 branches. So how come they shown as bitter enemies?

Likewise, the scriptwriters weren’t much aware of that, Guns and cannons were part of Kerala even when Portuguese first came to Kozhikode in 1498. Guns and cannons were introduced to Kerala, through Arab traders and Chinese. However the difference was, we had gun technology of 13th or 14th century even in 16th century as most of rulers didn’t invest much in improving new gunpowder technology. Rather focus and attention was developing on Kalaripayittu.  In the movie, we are made to believe, Chirakkal Princess doesn’t know what to say for Gun and calls it as Thee Thuppi! Whereas the word Pirangi and Thokku etc were much in Malayalam dictionary even in 14th century. So why to use the word Thuppakki? In 1502, Zamorins had fired more than 1200 cannons against Portuguese ships. However the Portuguese had better range, more firing power and manuveourability which our cannons didn’t have that time.

The movie had several other issues too apart of these historical mistakes. Many people do not exactly understand what is intended. For example, how many people can understand Perumpadappu means? When Estvo Da Gama was arrested, Jagathy says that immediately we must send an emissary to Perumpadappu. Its nothing but Kochi, as it was old name of Kochi Kingdom (just like Chirakkal- the capital of Kolathunadu Kingdom, Kochi was capital of Perumpadappu Swaroopam). Kochi that time was capital of Portuguese Indies.

There are some other issues too – In 1524, the third visit of Vasco-Da Gama, he didn’t visit Kolathanadu as shown in the movie. In 1515 Goa became the capital of Portuguese India and most of Portuguese viceroys started visiting and living in Goa. Kochi was their second capital and hence several factors and agents visit there. In 1524’s Gama’s visit, he first settled in Goa and later thought to visit Kochi as invited by Kochi King. Gama reached Kochi in Dec 23rd 1524 and died on next day due to Malaria. Vasco Da Gama was so fragile by 1524, that one blow from a person like Kelu Nayar’s kind of person would kill him. Yet we were shown that Vasco fighting with a powerful hunk like Kelu in full vigor. And the story is not clear whether he killed or not…

And thanks for Sankar Ramakrishnan, that at least through  his movie, he made Vasco’s second son Estave Da Gama to visit Kerala, a dream which Estave couldn’t accomplish during his lifetime as he was busy establishing African provinces of Portuguese and Homzur straits.

54 Comments

  1. Ever seen Theyyams of Vettaykkorumakan , Kshetrapalakan , Vairajathan of Nairs of Vadakkan kutti swaroopam & Allada Swaroopam ? These Royal Theyyams addresses themself as Nairs and call other Sthaanikar in Nair community like Nambiar , Poduval , Nair ,Kammal , Adiyodis as ‘Ananthiravan’ … Like Nambiar ananthiron , Kurup ananthiron , Poduval ananthiron ..
    There are Kaimal & Nambiar achanmaar in Kambikkath Nair family , which itsel proves that it all as Honorific titles ..

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