Aryadan Shoukath

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Aryadan Shoukath

Aryadan Shoukath is both an award-winning Indian film producer, [1] and an award-winning local state politician. He is the son of one of Kerala’s most senior Indian National Congress leaders, Aryadan Muhammed, (the former Kerala State Minister of Electricity). Shoukath is a powerful advocate of religious secularism, a fighter against religious intolerance, and an active social reformer initiating pioneering programmes in areas such as health and education. He is particularly concerned with improving the lives of tribal people.[2]

Aryadan Shoukath is the highest-profile cultural and political personality in Nilambur municipality (formerly, panchayat).[3] He was the president of the Nilambur panchayat when it won Kerala's best panchayat award from the state government, and is currently the chairman of the municipality.

His first film in 2003, Padam Onnu: Oru Vilapam, was an indictment of Muslim orthodoxy on girls' education. It won 15 awards, including the National Film Award for Family Welfare and the Best Asian Film Award at the Madrid Festival. His latest film Vilapangalkkappuram relates the story of a girl who flees the notorious anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat to come to Kerala.[4]

While participating in a talk show on the Malayalam channel Asianet News on 11.1.2013, Shoukath said that 80% of girls in his village are married below the age of 15. A girl of 14 once came to him and said, in tears, "My mother says that if I do not agree to my marriage, I would find her hanging when I return from school tomorrow. What do I do?". Even though he was the President of the Nilambur panchayat, Shoukath said he was unable to help the girl. (The show, Nammal Tammil (Between ourselves), dealt with the issue of the forced marriage of Muslim girls by men from Mysore.) Incidents such as this give an insight into what drives him to improve the lives of those without a voice.