Wednesday, April 24

Aadujeevitham: What Is Kunjikka’s Story

Edited by Timeline Entertainment Desk

“Then, by noon, a bus came. That bus went straight to the airport. We were led inside through a special door. I couldn’t even ring up Kunjikka to tell him I was free. He must have learned about it from someone. I still regret that I had to leave before I could say a good word to him. If you happen to read this from some corner of the earth, I hope that you will forgive me for the lapse,” Author Benyamin wrote this on the second last paragraph of Aadujeevitham. This was Najeeb Muhammad thinking and remembering as he was getting out of Saudi Arabia after a heart-wrenching ordeal that longed three years, four months and nine days as a slave labourer somewhere inside a desert.

Now a pathbreaking movie and sensation with master Malayalam director Blessy as director and Prithviraj Sukumaran as the lead as Najeeb Muhammad, Benyamin’s Aadujeevitham is inviting controversies as days passed since its release. The debates included how much the author took from the real life of Shukur, whose actual experience in Saudi Arabian desert by the hands of a Bedouin sponsor (Kafeel), and the veracity of some story elements he added to the thread to make the novel more effective.

There have been conversations around one of the most loved character from the novel: Kunjikka.

“In every Arab city, there is a loving, shelter-giving banyan tree. It was in front of Kunjikka’s hotel, a refuge for Malayalis in Batha market, that I had fainted. Note the loving ways of Allah. I, who was a stranger to that market, could have strayed anywhere and could have fainted elsewhere. Nobody would have cared for me. But Allah had decided that I was to reach Kunjikka,” here is how the author, in Najeeb’s voice introduces Kunjikka to the world.

The character, as Shukur and his experiences, is real. He is known as Malabar Kunjikka, because of the name of his hotel in Batha, Riyadh. He is a native of Tirur in Kerala’s Malappuram district and his actual name is Arankathil Kunji Muhammad.

Latest controversy

In a recent Facebook post, author Benyamin wrote: “Saw an interview yesterday which someone is saying that he is the Kunjika from the story… he may be or may be not the one. But one thing he says is a pure lie: I have never approached someone like this person to hear the story. I only know the Kunjika mentioned by Najib. I did not want to hear nothing beyond that. Many more may come, saying that he is Hakim, Ibrahim Qadiri, etc. Good.”

He was talking about an interview Kunjikka from Tirur gave to a YouTube channel. In which he said: “Once Benjamin came to me and said that he wanted to know more about writing the story (of Najeeb). I was not interested in it at all. Therefore, I dismissed him saying that I do not remember any such incident.”

According to Kunjikka, he has his reasons for not discussing the details of the story with Benyamin, who is now accused by a section of social media users that he has used Shukur’s experience and presence to sell the book after adding several instances in the story those were not actual events. The author is also now accused of lying about the authenticity of his claims, after he made a comment that the story of Shukur is less than 30 per cent in the story; however, he had written in his book’s afterwords that “he didn’t sugarcoat Najeeb’s story or fluff it up to please the reader.”

Kunjikka says that many people had told him about the book when it came out, and YouTubers have also been in touch with him lately to know more details about the story and the actual events, but he ignored all of them.

“I only spend what I have received from the God’s mercy. The hungry should be fed, that is what religion says. If we earn anything, it is not ours, it is God-given. It can be gone at any time. So, help people in need in whatever way we can, this will not shorten our wealth or life,” Kunjikka told a YouTuber and added that he is telling this now, after many insistence from the YouTuber.

In the movie Aadujeevitham, Nazer Karutheni dons the role of Kunjikka.