US-India Global Review

35 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JANUARY-MARCH 2018 class and should have the same chance in life," said Shigin Pradeesh, 20, a university student and son of a low-wage coconut picker, who was waiting by the front desk of the party headquar- ters in the village of Pinarayi. "I am not a selfish person," he said. "That's why I am a commu- nist." In Kerala the communist idea often survives in the most parochial of ways. When the party decided to open a worker-owned amusement park cooperative, some party officials complained that the proposed name - "Malabar Pleasures" - was mis- guided. Pleasure, after all, is a "bourgeois" concept. The name was changed to "Incredible Park." Ultimately, communism in Kerala has remained Indian. At a time of rising Hindu nationalism, the party's classes for young chil- dren - a communist version of Sunday school - emphasize a secular Indian identity. "We are not Christians or Muslims or Hindus," sang a group of barefoot boys and girls in Kerala's capital of Thiruvananthapuram, near the southern tip of India. "Hunger is the same for us all; pain is the same for us all. Our blood has the same color; our tears the same taste." Nearly 70 years after the travel- ing play, "You Made Me a Communist," introduced commu- nism to Kerala, a popular movie offered a new account of the movement. Director Amal Neerad's "Comrade in America" opened at theaters in Kerala, Abu Dhabi and Dubai on May 5, which also hap- pened to be Marx's birthday. In the film, Neerad's communist hero fights for the poor and falls in love with an American woman visiting family in Kerala. When she returns to the United States, he risks his life sneaking across the U.S.- Mexican border to win her back. The film gently pokes fun at self-important communists and their long-winded speeches about revolution. In one of its many whimsical moments, the lovesick hero drinks too much and halluci- nates a conversation with Che who tells him that the "best lovers among us are communist com- rades. Those who don't have any- thing to hide can create revolu- tions and love deeply." In the end, the hero's love chooses capitalist America over him. One film critic described Neerad's lead comrade as a "los- ing man." To Neerad, a former party activist, this was too bleak. "He's a losing believer," the film- maker said. Men work at Communist party headquarters in Pinarayi Village in September. (Vivek Singh/For TheWashington Post) “We are not Christians or Muslims or Hindus,” sang a group of barefoot boys and girls in Kerala’s capital of Thiruvananthapuram, near the southern tip of India. “