A film has been made about the story of a Kerala Muslim mother, Subaida, who raised three Hindu children as her own. ‘Ennu Swantham Sreedharan’, directed by Siddik Paravoor, premiered at the Vanitha Theatre in Edappally on January 9.
Chakki died about 50 years ago, but Shanavas recalls that day like it was yesterday. His mother Subaida handed baby Jafer over to his grandmother and hurriedly left the house, tears in her eyes, hoping for one more glimpse of Chakki, who was more of a friend to her than a house help. Subaida went home with three additional children in her arms: Chakki’s youngest, baby Sreedharan, and two other girls, Ramani and Leela. Shanavas received three new siblings into his life on that day, when he was seven years old.
Thennadan Subaida and Abdul Aziz Haji, a devout Muslim couple from Nilambur’s Kalikavu village in Kerala’s Malappuram district, raised the three children of their former domestic helper as their own for the rest of their lives, refusing to convert them to Islam. Subaida died in July 2019 of a renal disease, and her spouse Aziz Haji died two years later. Siddik Paravoor, an acclaimed director, has now adapted the family’s touching story for the big screen. The film, Ennu Swantham Sreedharan (‘With Love, Sreedharan,’ was named after Chakki’s youngest kid and debuted on January 9 at the Vanitha Theatre in Edappally.
The world outside Kalikavu first learned of Subaida through a Facebook post by Sreedharan, who shared the heartbreaking news of his umma’s (Islamic name for mother in Malayalam) death in July 2019. “How does ‘Sreedharan’ get a ‘umma’? Who are you deceiving? “Is this a forgery?” his Facebook pals had inquired. Sreedharan’s sadness had been exacerbated by his inability to travel home from Oman to visit his mother, and the doubts and aspersions put on his life’s events had bordered on harassment.
A day later, he resolved that he would not be defined by society’s dogmas as anything less than Subaida’s son – a Hindu kid of a Muslim mother. As a result, he took to Facebook to tell his life story, allowing the world in on a heartwarming lesson in love and peace.
Sreedharan is aware that his life might have turned out quite differently if he and his sisters had not been adopted by Subaida, especially given his birth family’s caste status. It wasn’t until he had his own son that he realised how much his parents loved him.
Siddik Paravoor, whose last film Thahira was selected for the Indian Panorama Feature Film section of the 51st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, first learned about Subaida via Kondotty-based social worker and orator AP Ahamed.
It didn’t take long after Ahamed got Siddik in touch with the family for the initiative to get underway. While dancer Nirmala Kannan played Subaida, journalist and writer Suresh Nellikode, who also produced the film, played Aziz Haji. Nilambur Ayisha and Shihabuddin Poythumkadavu, as well as Sachin Roy, Vaibhav Amarnath, Harsha Arun, and Rajitha Santhosh, played major parts.
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