North Indian migrant workers, who are slowly changing Kerala’s demography, have found way into the Malayalam celluloid. The first movie to be based on the life of migrant workers, Masala Republic, is slated for release next month and another untitled movie with a Bengali migrant as its protagonist is in the making.
The lead in Masala Republic is played by a migrant and the movie’s supporting actors include another dozen from the same community. A Kerala government study had concluded last year that the state’s migrant worker population (mainly from north and north-eastern states) was 25 lakh.
Masala Republic’s Director Vishak G S says the story is a political satire, woven around lives of migrant workers. “Many of them are addicted to paan masala. How the community reacts to ban on pan masala and emergence of a trade union to fight their cause are highlights of the story,’’ he said. The lead role, a paan vendor, is played by Sumangal, a migrant worker from Assam, who is an employee of a canteen in Kochi. Another migrant worker from Tibet plays the villain in the film, which also has prominent artistes from Malayalam film industry. The film was shot at Perumbavoor, a municipal town in Central Kerala, which is incidentally the largest hub of migrant workers in the state.
Director Akku Akbar has announced another project based on the life of migrant workers. Young actor Fahadh Faazil has been cast to play the role of a Bengali worker.
The migrant community in Kerala, initially employed to fill the shortage of unskilled workers in the construction sector, have now made it in many professions in Kerala. Recently at trend has started where women migrant workers, especially from Orissa, are also heading to Kerala.
The presence of the migrants, apart from changing the profiles of cities where they are concentrated, have also helped natives acquaint themselves with Hindi and regional North Indian languages. In the past, there have been incidents of migrants landing in trouble due to the communication gap between them and locals.