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And the river take Romeo for ever

Moideen and Kanchana - Porraits from the college days

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

A young director from South Indian state of Kerala unearthed a tragic love story which has parallels with the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet. COT Azeez reports on the tragic story of BP Moideen, a Muslim, and his sweetheart Kanchana Mala

Moideen and Kanchana - Porraits from the college days
Moideen and Kanchana – Porraits from the college days

The pluralistic fabric of India’s secular democracy is in danger. It is a   matter of concern that Kerala, the most literate and secular state in India, is also changing.  In the recent past, there were several incidents of moral policing across Kerala. In this context, it would be interesting to watch a real life story of a love affair between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy about half a century ago.

Ennu Ninte Moideen (Yours Moideen) is probably the best love story to have graced the screens in the last decade in Malayalam Cinema. It’s very rarely that you come across a love story in which the lovers come together only after death has taken one of them, leaving one to carry on the memory of the other — and changing the life of an entire village. It is very rarely that you come across Moideen and Kanchana.

Kanchanamala, the Widow of the Bachelor, in memory of Moideen

It is a story that began so long ago, when the river Iruvanji was half a century younger, its banks a lot more greener, and the lone wooden canoe always bobbed on the water, the village lifeline. There was then the young Kanchana, daughter of a prominent local Hindu landlord and a Congress leader, and there was Moideen, son of an equally prominent local Muslim.

They went to the same school, often boarded the only village boat together, mostly walked the same farm furrows home, but seldom talked to or looked at each other. Suddenly, they were in love — a Hindu and a Muslim, both from the area’s two big families, in ultra-conservative Kerala of the 1950s.

Kerala superstar Prithviraj played the role of Moideen in the film
Kerala superstar Prithviraj played the role of Moideen in the film

Moideen was asked to marry a girl that his family had chosen. He refused and thrown out of home.  Kanchana was taken off school, put under house arrest in the sprawling family home, never allowed to go out alone again.

Moideen pursude literary and social career instead of a family life. He wrote many short stories in Malayalam, and became a social worker. Kanchana became a complete recluse in her home’s confines. She never married, either.

Time flowed with the river and the two hardly saw each other over the next 25 years. They were in contact through a secret message service. Only two of them can decipher the code language. They decided to elope at one point, but could not make it because Kanchana though the infamy would affect her unmarried sisters’ prospects to get best grooms.

The Iruvanji quietly flowed some more time. It was in 1982; she was 31, and he was 34. Someone came to her home one evening to say the canoe had overturned on the Iruvanji, people have died. Days later, she heard one of

Kanchanamala them was Moideen; they had fished him out the third day.

Still confined at home, a shattered Kanchana tried to kill herself. “I tried at least six times, and relatives foiled it every time. After the last try, they had to put me in a hospital for many days. I tried to hang myself from the hospital roof, and failed again. I even tried putting away the sedatives so that I could take them all together and die, but they found out,” she says. By then, her family had nearly given up on her.

Word soon spread in the village, and she had a visitor one morning — Moideen’s mother. “She was a remarkable woman. Her son had died only a fortnight ago and yet she came all the way to see me, despite everything. She asked me to live on so that I could finally go to her, as Moideen’s bride”. Kanchana did just that after leaving the hospital. Hindu bride of a Muslim husband — no one could object to a dead one.

Budding actress Parvathi as Kanchana in the movie
Budding actress Parvathi as Kanchana in the movie

Moideen’s mother asked her to take over everything her son had worked hard on all his short life, working for the deprived and the dispossessed. Before he died, Moideen had started a village institution for empowering destitute women, one probably way before its time. She also gave her son’s library to her. She found that some books in it had the rare scribbles that she had managed to smuggle to him, tucked securely between the pages.

Moideen’s mother soon died. Kanchana was stubborn and her family could only give in, reluctantly. There was not much of the ridicule and contempt she and Moideen faced all their lives in the village, once he died.

Kanchana now leads the BP Moideen Seva Mandir (BPMSM) that she founded in Mukkom. She had added a rescue shelter for the homeless, a family counseling centre, a blood donors’ network linking villages, a library, and a lot more; mostly by using donations from villagers and friends.

The Prithviraj-Parvathy starrer classic love story has already emerged as a blockbuster. The movie, which is written and directed by RS Vimal, has collected more than 10 Crores when it completed 10 days. While Malayalees celebrate the unconditional love of Moideen and Kanchanamala portrayed by Prithviraj and Parvathy in Ennu Ninte Moideen, the real Kanchanamala, the widow of a bachelor, is at Mukkam relishing the priceless memories she had with her lover years back.


Moideen and Kanchana - Porraits from the college days
Moideen and Kanchana – Porraits from the college days