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Friday, August 06, 2021

When Mohanlal’s Varavelpu found a mention in former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s speech

In a speech, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee mentioned Mohanlal's Varavelpu, which was a biting indictment of Kerala's political climate, which had become toxic for people who aspired to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship.

By: Entertainment Desk | Bengaluru |
Updated: June 15, 2021 10:13:13 am
A still from Varavelpu.

Varavelpu is a timeless political satire by iconic screenwriter-actor Sreenivasan. The film was apparently inspired by the real-life challenges faced by Sreenivasan’s father. Helmed by Sathyan Anthikad, the film had Mohanlal in the lead role. When the movie was released in 1989, it didn’t receive a lot of love at the box office. But, the thing about great films is that they will take their rightful place in the world sooner or later. And Varavelpu did make a special place in the memory of movie buffs for its accurate observation about Kerala’s then unhealthy political climate, which was driving investors away from the state.

In fact, Sreenivasan’s keen observation was so evocative and powerful, it found a mention in the speech of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In 2003, in his inaugural speech at the Global Investor Meet held in Kerala, Vajpayee noted that the state was notorious for being an unfavourable destination to do business.

“On the one hand, people from Kerala have shown exemplary entrepreneurship whenever they have ventured out in other parts of India and the world. On the other, they do not feel inspired to invest in Kerala itself to start industrial and business ventures, and create wealth and employment opportunities here. There is an impression that Kerala does not offer a business-friendly climate, either for outside investors or even for its own entrepreneurs. It is seen as a good place to sell goods because there are many people with high incomes, but not as a good place to set up industrial and other business ventures,” Vajpayee had said in his speech.

He further invoked the example of Varavelpu, which was a biting indictment of Kerala’s political climate, which had become toxic for people who aspired to achieve financial independence through entrepreneurship.

“I am told that there is a Malayalam movie called Varavelppu in which your famous actor Mohanlal acts as a Gulf-returned Keralite. He invests his savings in a small business venture with high hopes. But in the end, he is forced to close it down after going through many unpleasant experiences. Therefore, this conference should serve as an occasion for introspection,” the ex-PM had said.

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