There has been a lot of discussion about the language in Lijo Jose Pellissery’s latest film Churuli, which was released on a streaming site. S Hareesh developed Churuli into a screenplay for Lijo, based on a narrative by Vinoy Thomas – Kaligeminarile Kuttavalikal. On November 19, the film, which had its world debut in Kerala at the International Film Festival of Kerala in February, was released on SonyLIV. Since then, people have commented on how many curse words were used in Churuli, with some taking offence and others defending artistic freedom. Churuli’s choice of dialogue was also the subject of prime-time television debates.
The film depicts the trip of two police officers – Chemban Vinod and Vinay Forrt – into a location named Churuli in search of a slippery criminal, and is dark, fantastical, and hilarious, as are most Lijo flicks. They’ve disguised themselves as workers and entered a tea cafe. Churuli, on the other hand, is not a typical location. When the men who offered them a lift suddenly turn hostile and abusive as they cross a bridge, the cops receive their first taste of Churuli’s odd ways. The courteous smiles go away, and everything goes downhill from there.
Everyone in Churuli speaks and behaves in weird ways, from Jaffer Idukki, who plays the tea store owner, to Joju George, who appears near the end of the film. Antony, played by Chemban, is the more daring of the two, easily enthralled by nighttime hunts and the aroma of rare meat. Vinay Forrt portrays a more serious subordinate officer who wants to get out of town as soon as possible. However, as the film progresses, the latter looks to fit into the strange setting more easily.
When they are not speaking Malayalam, the residents of Churuli switch to another language. Some viewers complained on Facebook that they didn’t comprehend anything about the movie, while others thought the language was too strong for a family audience. The film does, however, start with a caution that it is only suitable for individuals aged 18 and up.
The usage of foul language in the film has been condemned by political groups as well. Sreejith Panickar, a pro-BJP analyst, claimed that the filmmakers used such words on purpose to attract attention. He talked on the lack of censorship on OTT platforms and how filmmakers should use their common sense to decide what to include and what not to include. Meanwhile, the film’s use of foul language has been criticised by the Youth Congress. Adv Johnson Abraham, a Congress leader, has sent a letter to the Chief Minister and the Director General of Police, stating that the film’s language is part of a ‘goon culture,’ a dig at Joju George, the actor with whom the party has recently had a spat.
In an interview with The Cue, director Jeo Baby, writer PF Mathews, and others defended Churuli, which is fundamentally an art form that draws inspiration from the environment around it.
Lijo Jose is well known for his experimental films, such as Ee Ma Yaw, in which a son goes through the night to arrange a proper burial for his father, Angamaly Diaries, in which 86 new performers had their debut, and Jallikattu, which, in his own words, is about the clash between man and beast.