Dulquer Salmaan plays the role of the real-life criminal Sukumara Kurup who killed Chacko 37 years ago and faked it as his own death.
It was friends who told Jithin about a movie called dry up, will be made upon the murderer of his father. All his life he had heard stories about how a man named Sukumara Kurup killed his young father Chacko and burned his body in a car. It was Kurup’s car, left completely charred, to give the impression that it had killed him. Kurup, who came home to Alappuzha from the Gulf, tried to claim a huge sum as insurance for his family. The deception came out, but the man was not caught in 37 years.
“I was shocked when I heard about the film and felt even worse when I knew that a star like Dulquer was playing Salmaan Kurup. How can an actor everyone admires play a villain? Will the character be glorified, will his actions be justified, we feared. When I saw the teaser, I was sure it would be something along those lines. So we sent a legal notice to the film team,” Jithin told TNM.
Dulquer Salmaan works for the film together with its first director Srinath Rajendran. It had been nine years since they both launched their film careers with Second Show. “Srinath called us when we sent the legal notice. He assured us that there will be no justification for Sukumara Kurup as we feared and offered to show us the film before release. Once I saw it, I understood that there was more to the story than I had heard all along and that it was important for it to reach the people. There was no glorification of the man who killed my father,” Jithin says with relief.
Chacko / Courtesy – Jithin
His mother Santhamma has not watched the film. It had been hard enough to tell the story multiple times in the 37 years that passed. Chacko was only 32 when he died and Santhamma was pregnant with Jithin. That fateful night, Chacko stood outside a movie theater in Karuvatta (in the Alappuzha district), where he had finished his work as a “film agent.” He hitchhiked with a gang of men who passed by in a car. Unfortunately for him, they were Kurup’s henchmen, looking for a victim to kill and pass on as Kurup. They forced him to drink alcohol and ether and strangled him to death and took the body to a house of Kurup where he waited for them. They scorched his head and face inside the house to avoid identification, then put him in Kurup’s car before burning him.
‘I didn’t see that piece, I left. But a friend who went with me told me it has been shown truthfully. I can’t say much about it either. All my knowledge of the incident comes from newspaper reports and snippets of interviews I’ve heard my mother give over the years. I know how much it hurts her every time to talk about it in such detail. So I never asked her about it.”
Kurup’s Burnt Car / Courtesy – Dr. B Umadethan’s Dead Men Tell Tales
Santhamma was also upset by the movie announcement and its teaser. Will they portray Chacko and his family in a negative light, she feared. Both Santhamma and Jithin had never heard of the film Pinneyum when it came out five years ago. It wasn’t until much later that they realized that it was also Sukumara Kurup, but portraying him in a “sympathetic” light. “I don’t know how anyone who knew the real story could make such a movie. There was absolutely no sympathy for the Chacko family. They didn’t think about Chacko’s relatives, who were still alive,” Jithin said.
Watch: Trailer of dry up
Since Chacko’s death in 1984, the family has moved several times. They stayed at Chacko’s family’s house in Chathanad for three years and then moved to Santhamma’s in Pathampally. Santhamma was all the while working as a housekeeper at the W&C Hospital and raising Jithin with some help from relatives. Later they bought a piece of land nearby and built a house there. Jithin works in car sales.
Dulquers dry up was announced some time ago but was delayed due to COVID-19. When production work resumed, the team distributed regular updates: a teaser, a trailer, a song, and a theater release date. In Kerala, theaters took longer to open a second time, and the pandemic refused to slow down. But as soon as the government gave the sign for an opening in late October, the Kurup team announced a release on November 12.