The most expensive Mollywood movie ever made, the historical epic Pazhassi Raja has been the big Diwali hit in Kerala and elsewhere this weekend, with over 500 prints produced. Starring Mammootty in the title role, the film tells the tragic tale of the epic rebellion of Pazhassi Raja, an early king of Kerala at the end of the 18th century, who led an army of Nairs and Kurichiyas, armed with little more than swords and bows and arrows, who fought the British to a standstill for more than ten years in the forests of the south. The movie has been compared to recent Chinese-made epics such as Hero or Red Cliff. The film opens with a narration from Shahrukh Khan in the Hindi version, which the great man provided for free as he comes from a family of freedom fighters and wanted to support the project.
Pazhassi Raja has three women heroines in Kanika Subramaniam as Pazhassi Raja’s wife; Padmapriya impresses in an action-packed role as the leader of the women Kurichiya fighters; and American Linda Arsenio as the fiancee of the Collector. Linda, a Texan from Galveston, has appeared in a number of Bollywood movies including Kabul Express, Mumbai Salsa and Aloo Chaat.
Shahrukh Khan, meanwhile, has had his usual busy week, throwing a party fro MJ’s brother Jermaine Jackson, who is visiting Mumbai with Shilpa Shetty; being appointed an honorary ambassador for Culture and Tourism for South Korea – and being made an honorary Taekwondo blackbelt into the bargain – and entering into talks for two possible new movies, Paul Schrader’s Xtreme City and Always Kabhi Kabhi.