1921 (1988 film)

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1921 poster.jpg
Directed by I. V. Sasi
Produced by Muhammed Mannil
Written by T. Damodaran
Screenplay by T. Damodaran
Story by T. Damodaran
Starring Mammootty
Suresh Gopi
T. G. Ravi
Music by Shyam
Cinematography V Jayaram
Edited by K. Narayanan
Mannil Films
Distributed by Mannil Films
Release date
  • 19 August 1988 (1988-08-19)
Running time
197 minutes
Country India
Language Malayalam
Budget Rs. 1.20 crore[1]
"It [the film] deals with a contentious chapter of our [Indian] Independence struggle, but does it in grand style and high drama. It is also one film that does justice to history. Its representation of the region [South Malabar], the milieu and the historic incident [1921 Uprising] became all the more politically relevant and socially resonant in the next decades [1990s and 2000s] when the [Malayalam] movie images of minorities [Muslims] became biased and parochial."[2]

—Film critic C. S. Venkiteswaran in The Hindu

1921 - Ayirathi Thollayirathi Irupathi Onnu is a 1988 Indian war drama film written by T. Damodaran and directed by I. V. Sasi, set during the 1921-22 Mappila Uprising in Madras Presidency. The film has an ensemble cast including Mammootty, Suresh Gopi, Madhu, T. G. Ravi, Seema, Urvashi and Mukesh.[3][4][5] It tells the fictional story of Khader (Mammootty), a World War I veteran, who joins with the Mappila rebels during the Uprising.

Made with a budget of Rs. 1.20 crore, 1921 was then the most expensive film in Malayalam. It was also the first "big budget" historical drama film in Malayalam. T. Damodaran later called this film as his "dream project". The film, an Onam Release, was released in Kerala on 19 August, 1988. The film was a huge box-office "blockbuster" super-hit.[6][7] The film won Kerala State Film Award for Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value in 1988.[8]


The screenplay was written by physical education teacher-turned-scriptwriter T. Damodaran. He was particularly good at writing political dramas, especially for director I. V. Sasi, with whom he formed a remarkably prolific partnership.[9]

The film focuses on Mappila bullock cart driver Khader (Mammootty), a retired corporal and World War I veteran, and Unni Krishnan (Suresh Gopi), a hardline nationalist revolutionary from a family of upper-caste Hindu landlords. Both men join the brigade of Variyan Kunnathu Kunjahammad Haji (T. G. Ravi), one of the prominent leaders of the 1921 Uprising.

The plot gradually introduces a variety of characters, representing the South Malabar society of the 1920s. The film also touches various social dilemmas which led to the 1921 Uprising, the atrocities committed by the British army and the rebels during the events and the eventual collapse of the rebel unity and organisation.


Actor Ranjini was initially approached by I. V. Sasi for the film, but due to some date clashes she could not sign up.[10]


Director I. V. Sasi

The film was produced by Muhammed Mannil. Raju Narakkal, Sethu Wayanad, and T. V. Janardhanan served as Production Managers while Peter Narakkal was the Production Executive. The film's budget was 1.2 crore (US$170,000).[11]

Anil worked as the Associate Director for the film. Jomon, M. A. Venugopal and Shajoon Kariyal were the Assistant Directors while M. Sankar oversaw "Action". K. Ravi, Selin and Murali assisted K. Narayanan in editing. V. Jayaram was assisted in cinematography by V. Remesh Babu, G. V. S. Seetharam, M. Mohan, M. K. Vasanth Kumar and Pankajakshan. Sasi "T. V." Mohan was the Production Designer while I. V. Satheesh Babu was assisted by C. K. Suresh and Santhosh Kaipally in Art Direction. The "Set" was done by B. R. Rangan and Narayanan. Mani, George and Sakunthala assisted M. O. Devasia in Make Up. Durai, Guruswamy and Palani assisted M. M. Kumar as the Costumer. Recording and re-recording were carried out by Selvaraj. G. Rajan, and C. Anand oversaw the dubbing of the film.

Out Door Unit of the film was Anu Enterprises. The film was publicised by "Gayathri" and was distributed by Mannil Films.

The film shows the following acknowledgements in its credits:

    • History Department, University of Calicut
    • Moidu Moulavi
    • Manjery Kovilakam
    • Maranathu Mana, Pandikkadu
    • Naduvathu Mana, Pandikkadu
    • Manorama Estate
    • Meembadu House, Malappuram
    • Nenmini Estate, Nilamboor
    • The people of Malappuram, Manjeri and Annakkayam


Sreedhar Pillai wrote in India Today (December, 1988), "[Mammootty] can carry any film by sheer artistry and powerful expressions. His role as a CBI officer Perumal in CBI Oru Diary Kurrippu which like [Mohan]Lal's 20th Century grossed over Rs 2 crore, as Khader in 1921 have all the insignia of the classic actor".[1]

"The top dream merchants of the [Malayalam film] industry see to it that the characters are created according to the diktats of these superstars [Mammootty and Mohanlal]...even history has been tinged with an overdose of fantasy to suit the image of Mammootty [in the film 1921]," film critic Sreedhar Pillai wrote in India Today. Says Damodaran who created the film: "A few years back history could have been told as it was in Malayalam cinema but today I have to weave an actual incident in masala form with a larger than life character for the sake of Mammootty."[1]

The film's screenplay and dialogues, written by T. Damodaran, were praised by the general Kerala public. Initially [as per December, 1988] the film was not doing well at the theatres as expected.[1][12] The film was a huge box-office "super-hit" at the end its run in the theatres.[13]

Some observers view the film as I. V. Sasi's "best cinematic work". "1921 was shot on a wide canvas with hundreds of actors and required to be dealt with sensitively considering the communal [Hindu - Muslim] passions that the event evinces in Malabar, says the Times of India.[14]


The soundtrack was composed by Shyam. The lyrics of the songs in the film were adapted from folklore Malayalam poems by poets such as Moyinkutty Vaidyar (19th century). Independent India's "national song" Vande Mataram, written by Bengali poet Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838 - 1894), is also featured in the film with vocals by K. S. Chithra. Other "playback singers" are Naushad and Vilayil Fazila.

Song Playback singer Lyrics Duration
"Manathu Maaran" Noushad Moyinkutty Vaidyar
"Dheerasameere Yamunatheere" K. S. Chithra traditional poem
"Muthunava Rathnamukham" Noushad Moyinkutty Vaidyar
"Firdausil Adukkumpol" Noushad and Vilayil Fazila P. Abdul Khader
"Vande Mataram" (Sanskrit) K. S. Chithra Bankim Chandra Chatterjee


  1. ^ a b c d e Sreedhar Pillai. Celluloid Sultans of Kerala 31 December 1988 India Today Archives [1]
  2. ^ C. S. Venkiteswaran. "The End of an Epoch" The Hindu OCTOBER 26, 2017 [2] [3]
  3. ^ "1921". www.malayalachalachithram.com. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  4. ^ "1921". malayalasangeetham.info. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  5. ^ "1921". spicyonion.com. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  6. ^ T Damodaran cremated with state honours MARCH 28, 2012 The Mathrubhumi daily
  7. ^ Mammootty - IV Sasi - Damodaran together again 23 April 2010 The New Indian Express [4]
  8. ^ "List of Malayalam Films Released During the Year 1988". Information and Public Relations Department, Government of Kerala. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
  9. ^ P. K. Ajith Kumar. "Malayalam scriptwriter Damodaran dead". [5] The Hindu 28 March 2012 [6]
  10. ^ "Remembering the legend" [7] Deccan Chronicle 25 October 2017 [8]
  11. ^ Sreedhar Pillai. Celluloid Sultans of Kerala 31 December 1988 India Today Archives
  12. ^ T Damodaran cremated with state honours MARCH 28, 2012 The Mathrubhumi daily.
  13. ^ T Damodaran cremated with state honours MARCH 28, 2012 The Mathrubhumi daily
  14. ^ "How Kerala will remember IV Sasi's films". Times of India Blog. Retrieved 2018-10-13.

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