Keralavarma Pazhassiraja is a 2009 Malayalam historical drama film based on the life of Pazhassi Raja, who fought against the British in the 18th century. The film was directed by Hariharan, written by M. T. Vasudevan Nair and produced by Gokulam Gopalan. It stars an ensemble cast consisting of Mammootty in the title role, and Sarath Kumar, Manoj K. Jayan, Kanika Subramaniam, Padmapriya, Thilakan, Peter Handley Evans, Harry Key, Linda Arsenio and Jagathi Sreekumar in other major roles. The music score and soundtrack were created by Ilaiyaraaja, while its sound design is by Resul Pookutty. The political situation of the time is portrayed from an Indian viewpoint in the film, and the locals are treated sympathetically.
Originally filmed in Malayalam, Pazhassi Raja was dubbed in Tamil. The film was released on 16 October 2009 across Kerala with 130 prints. Upon release, it enjoyed critical acclaim and huge box-office success collecting INR 1.53 crore on its opening day. It was featured in international film festivals of Kerala and Mumbai besides many festivals across the world including the prestigious Fukuoka International Film Festival.
The film is about Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (Mammootty), who belonged to the Kottayam royal family, and his guerilla revolts against the English East India Company when they imposed high revenue policies among the local people of Kottayam, comprising the present day Thalassery Taluk and parts of Wayanad.
Pazhassi Raja is now the virtual ruler of Kottayam. His family helped the East India Company fight against Tipu Sultan of Mysore when the latter tries to invade Wayanad. But soon after, the Company impose high taxes on the people of Wayanad. Pazhassi Raja opposes this action and does not agree to the new taxes. This enrages the Company officials. With the help of Pazhassi Raja's uncle Kurumbranadu ruler Veeravarma (Thilakan), who is jealous of Pazhassi Raja for his success and influence, and Raja's old companion Pazhayamveedan Chandhu (Suman), the Company act against Pazhassi Raja. This forces Pazhassi Raja to escape to the forests of Wayanad. The tribal force led by Neeli captures Assistant Collector Thomas Hervey Baber and his fiancée Dora in the jungle, in spite of his commander's objection. The Raja treats Thomas Baber and Dora as his guest and releases them.
From there he begins a guerrilla battles against the Company. He is supported by his army chief Edachena Kunkan (Sarathkumar) and his brother-in-law Kaitheri Ambu (Suresh Krishna). In the guerrilla battle-front, Pazhassi Raja uses the expertise of Thalakkal Chandu (Manoj K. Jayan), a Kurichya soldier, and Chandu's fiancée Neeli (Padmapriya).
During the initial phases of the battle, the Company lose lots of men and money. This compels them to make a peace treaty with Pazhassi Raja. Raja agrees, hoping that this move will bring peace to the area and his people. However, the conditions of the treaty are never observed by the Company. This prompts Raja to start the battle again. Similarly, Dora leaves Thomas Baber for England, having learned the betrayal done by the Company to the Raja and despite her objection to the hanging of a father and son, who refused to reveal the location of the Raja to the Company. He forms useful alliances with many rulers and powerful families in the nearby places like Unni Mootha (Captain Raju) and his men.
Pazhassi Raja and his army successfully start the battle again. But the Company use heavily armed forces against him and succeed in luring many tribal leaders. This leads to the capture and subsequent hanging of Thalakkal Chandu as he was cheated by a tribal head (Nedumudi Venu).
The Company start hunting for Pazhassi and his army chief Edachena Kunkan. In a bloody fight, Edachena Kunkan kills Pazhayamveedan Chandhu. But he is surrounded by the Company. Instead of surrendering before them, he commits suicide. This makes Raja's army weaker. But Pazhassi Raja, even though knowing that he is going to die, goes for a last fight against the Company. After a glorious fight Pazhassi Raja is killed by the Company. The film ends with the assistant collector Thomas Baber (Harry Key) placing the body of the Raja in a Palki and his famous words: "He was our enemy. But he was a great warrior, a great man and we honour him." The Company officers respond by saluting the corpse of the Raja and acting as pallbearers.