Debate in Kerala over name of Colombian football legend Rene Higuita; here's why

Debate in Kerala over name of Colombian football legend Rene Higuita; here's why

Rene Higuita, the former professional footballer was known for his high-risk 'sweeper-keeper' playing style and flair for the dramatic.

At a time when the world is gripped with the World Cup soccer fever, a controversy is brewing in Kerala in the name of legendary Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita - whether his name can be used as the title of an upcoming movie or not.

The name of the former star goalkeeper, known for his incredible "scorpion kick" decades ago, was given as the title of a Malayalam movie, which is scheduled to be released later this month, by debutant director Hemant Nair.

However, eminent writer-columnist N S Madhavan recently came out protesting against the move saying "Higuita" was the name of his well-known short story, which generations have studied in schools and wished no writer in any language would suffer his pain.

He also tweeted recently that Malayalam cinema has always loved and respected writers and he, as a writer, has nothing but to say that it was "painful."

As the issue triggered a row, several people including celebrated Malayalam-English poet K Satchidanandan came out supporting Madhavan.

Reacting to various TV channels, Satchidanandan said the name "Higuita" became familiar among the Malayali readers through Madhavan's famous short story.

"It is one of the best short stories in the language. The makers of the movie should have shown the propriety to inform the writer when they take the name of the story for their film," he said.

However, Hemant Nair, the filmmaker, said the title was announced three years ago and there had been no issue so far.

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He said he did not know what had happened suddenly after the release of the first-look poster of the Suraj Venjaramoodu-starrer recently.

The film has nothing to do with the story of Madhavan and the title "Higuita" was given in a symbolic manner, the young director said.

"My movie is a political satire in which the protagonist is a person who tries to protect his party as a goalkeeper who tries to save his team on the ground. Thus, the name of Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita, was chosen for the title," he said.

Nair also said Madhavan is one of the writers whom he admires the most and did not want to hurt him anyway.

He said he would try to meet the writer in person and discuss the matter.

However, Madhavan tweeted on Friday that he has been informed that the name "Higuita" would not be used for the upcoming film and thanked Kerala Film Chamber for facilitating this.

"I have been informed that the name Higuita will not be used for the movie. I am grateful to the Kerala Film Chamber for facilitating this. Thanks for all the support. I wish young director Hemanth Nair and his film all success. May people flock to see Suraj-Dhyaan movie," the writer said.

He later told reporters in Thrissur that he was thoroughly pained after coming to know that the name of his short story was used as the title of an upcoming film.

"Because, I cannot do a film based on that short story anymore. Once the title is registered, its right goes to that person. So, I will lost the right on my story. Thus, I appraised the Film Chamber about my concerns," Madhavan said.

A Film Chamber source told PTI that the film crew has been directed to put the controversial title on hold till they receive the consent of the author.

However, film personalities including well-known filmmaker Venu termed the Chamber's action as absurd.

Nair said he did not get an official directive from the Chamber in this regard.

"We came to know about the development through the media only. We hope that the Chamber will listen to our version also. So, we will surely convince them when we get the opportunity. The other things will be decided later," he told the media.

Rene Higuita, the former professional footballer was known for his high-risk 'sweeper-keeper' playing style and flair for the dramatic.

He was ranked the eighth best South American keeper in history by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics.

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