. . .
The murder of Kochu Kunju Channar inspired the hit thriller Manichitrathazhu. The scriptwriter Madhu Muttom loosely used the storyline of this blood-soaked incident in the family history. A chieftain accused of diverting wealth towards his family - Kochu Kunju Channar - was killed by his nephew AP Sreedharan in the durbar of the Meda. The movie was directed by Fazil and starred Mohanlal, Shobhana, Suresh Gopi, Innocent and Nedumudi Venu.
Although the incident provided the framework for the script, there is no factual evidence that an imprisoned and subjugated dancer was the murderer. Nor was it a crime of passion.
Dispirited that Kochu Kunju Channar was diverting the family's wealth towards his wife and children, Sreedharan (21) argued with the Channar in a sabha (gathering) in the Meda. The Channar was sitting on a Simhasanam (ceremonial chair) when his nephew challenged him with the sword. The Channar dismissed the boy, as he thought he was safe because of his six (6) bodyguards.
However, with the help of two of his friends, Sreedharan overcame the bodyguards and closed in on the Channar. Even though the Channar was a Kalari expert, he could not defend himself against this surprise attack. After receiving a deep cut on his left jugular, Channar succumbed to massive blood loss.
The Maharaja of Travancore - Sreemoolam Thirunal - who considered Kochu Kunju Channar a close supporter, took a particular interest in the prosecution. Subsequently, the high court of Travancore punished AP Sreedharan Channar with a death sentence. This sentence was executed circa 1921. AP Sreedharan Channar's associates - AP Shekharan Channar and MS Madhavan (Thurayil Family) - were sentenced to life for the conspiracy. MS Madhavan died during his imprisonment. AP Shekharan Channar completed his term and was released after the coronation of Sree Chithira Thirunal.
Another version of this folklore suggests that the trio killed a maid who saw this murder, so she would not become a material witness to the crime. However, there is no evidence to support this. Sreedharan and his two companions were convicted only of one murder (of the Channar).
In the plot of Manichitrathazhu, a subjugated dancer whom the chieftain imprisoned in the Meda kills him. This plot is 100% fiction and not factual. Examination of the court documents of the murder trial reveals that the motive was financial, and his nephew did the act.
. . .