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The most compelling love stories are the most tragic ones. Culture, religion and society have many a time stood in the way of two hearts aching to be one — think Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or India’s Salim-Anarkali.

Kanchanamala and Moideen’s story — the tale of a Hindu woman and a Muslim man — shares a similar fate. Moideen died in 1982 while recusing people from a capsized boat in Iruvanji river in Kerala. Kanchanamala lives on, resting solely on the bank of memories that Moideen left behind.

That former journalist R. S. Vimal dared to explore a real story with his first film is brave indeed. With an overwhelming response since its release in Kerala last month, Vimal’s debut may get a Tamil remake.

Vimal first learnt of this love story while working for a Malayalam television channel. The story nagged at him until he made a documentary, Jalam Kondu Murivettaval. (You can watch it here).

“They loved for over 25 years and with no physical relationship between them,” said Vimal, who quit work six years ago to make Ennu Ninte Moideen. The challenge lay in condensing more than 36 years in a two-hour screenplay. Ennu Ninte Moideen was built from anecdotes shared by Moideen’s family and Kanchanamala. Moideen’s brother, B.P. Rasheed, was involved at the scripting stage and joined the film’s star, Prithviraj, on set.

The story is set in the ’60s and ’70s in Mukkam (Kozhikode), where Moideen and Kanchanamala grew up. Both belonged to well-known families. Their fathers were close friends too. But their love was frowned upon and she was kept under house arrest for ten years by her family. During this period the lovers only communicated through letters. Today, Kanchanamala calls herself the unmarried widow of Moideen.

Ennu Ninte Moideen is produced by Newtown Movies. The supporting cast includes Sai Kumar as Moideen’s father and Lena as his mother. Sudheesh Karamana plays Moideen’s friend Mukkam Bhasi. Tovino Thomas plays Appu, Kanchanamala’s cousin. Rasheed’s son, Roshan, plays Moideen’s childhood friend. Shot in Ernakulam, Shoranur and Palakkad, the cinematography is by Jomon T.John.

M. Jayachandran and Ramesh Narayan have scored the music for the film and lyrics have been written by Rafeeq Ahammed. Check out Kathirunnu, Kathirunnu, a song by Shreya Ghosal. Gopi Sundar has composed the film’s background score. Vimal used a digital story board for the film, a first in Malayalam cinema.

“Every shot of the film was prepared with dialogue bubbles to make the job easier for actors,” he added.

Ennu Ninte Moideen releases in the UAE on October 22.