Bramayugam: Legal Battles, Folklore, and Historical Insights
Bramayugam: Legal Battles, Folklore, and Historical Insights (Picture Credit: IMDb)

Though many have savored Bramayugam in the theater, its depths extend far beyond entertainment. It involves a legal battle and connections with a folktale. What is Aithihyamala? Who is Punchaman Potti? Who is the powerful Bhraman family called the Punchaman family? This article will discuss everything mentioned above and more, so let’s continue reading.

Legal Troubles

Bramayugam stirred controversy before its release, with the “Punchaman family” from Kerala’s Kottayam district filing a lawsuit against the film. They argued that Mammootty’s portrayal of “Kunjamon Potti” resembled their ancestor, “Punchaman Potti,” from the classic Malayalam literary work, “Aithihyamala,” and contended that the depiction of black magic tarnished their family’s honor. Their legal pursuit aimed to halt the film’s release by urging the cancellation of its censor certification. Director Rahul Sadasivan clarified that Mammootty‘s character had no connection to the historical Punchaman Potti and emphasized the fictional nature of the character and the film’s narrative set in the late 18th century. The legal dispute centered on Section 5B of the Cinematograph Act, 1952, with the petitioner arguing that Mammootty’s portrayal could damage their family’s reputation. Due to the legal conflict, the filmmakers changed the lead character’s name from Kunjamon Potti to Kodumon Potti.

Aithihyamala & Punchaman Family

Crafted by the esteemed Kottarathil Sankunni (23 March 1855 – 22 July 1937), ‘Aithihyamala’ (The Garland of Legends) stands as a resplendent opus in Malayalam literature, weaving through the tapestry of Kerala’s illustrious past with fervor and allure. It blends fables, fiction, and real-life narratives, igniting enthusiasm and crafting an enchanting tapestry of tales. The epic includes ancient stories with god-like Brahmins, kind rulers, yakshis(female ghosts), extraordinary beings, sorcerers, and many more. It’s set in a world where it’s hard to tell what’s true and what’s not. It teaches us about Kerala’s cultural past.

The title of “Punchaman Potti” is bestowed upon the eldest sorcerer of the Punchaman family in each generation. According to ‘Aithihyamala,’ ‘Punchaman Potti’ back then conducted Poojas and yagams to appease Kuttichathan, which ultimately transformed him into a mighty sorcerer due to the favors bestowed upon him by Kuttichathan. In Malabari Hindu folklore, Kuttichathan is depicted as a portly adolescent boy spirit, often imbued with a sinister aura. ‘Kuttichathan’s’ mischievous antics, such as turning food into excrement or beds into thorny surfaces, cast a shadow of trouble over his victims, yet they never inflict serious harm. At times, appeasing Kuttichathan involves the practice of ritually beheading live animals.

Descendants of Punchaman Potti still reside in Kerala, specifically in a place called Kottayam, where their ancestral home from that time, known as ‘Punchaman Illam,’ still stands. Despite its aged appearance, the family has ensured regular maintenance and renovation of the property. In modern times, family members hold various professions, such as lecturers, professors, civil servants, and businessmen. However, it remains to be seen whether the family members continue the practice of Kuttichathan seva (seva is the practice of appeasing deities).

Plot of Movie vs. Folktale (Spoiler Alert)

The folk tale and the movie’s plot have few similarities, mostly in character names and location. The folk tale follows Punchaman Potti, his adventures, and his friendships. In contrast, the movie shows Kuttichathan, an evil spirit, turning against the family and committing gruesome acts, including killing unborn infants. In the film, Kuttichathan takes on the identity of Punchaman Potti and resides in the household. However, in the folk tale, Kuttichathan is depicted as subservient to Punchaman Potti, following his instructions. The movie portrays Punchaman Potti as mentally unstable and confined to the attic before his death, allowing Kuttichathan to take over his role. Both are entirely different stories.

Must Read: Bramayugam Movie Review: A Haunting Tale Of Folklore And Intrigue

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