The Kerala Story Controversy
The Kerala Story is a Hindi movie that released on 5th May 2023. The movie is produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah and directed by Sudipto Sen. The movie made a gross business of ₹8.03 crore on the very first day of its release, thereby making it the fifth highest film opener in India.
However, the movie churned up controversies with equal intensity as that of the business it made. The root of this controversy is the storyline of the movie.
The plot of this story focuses on the issue of forced religious conversion.
The story is centred on the central character Shalini Unnikrishnan who wants to become a nurse. So, she gets admitted to a Muslim-run college that is located in the Muslim-majority district of Kasaragod.
Unfortunately, she gets kidnapped by extremist groups and she is forcefully converted to Islam. The story also shares how Shalini, who was forced to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), ultimately gets kidnapped and imprisoned in Afghanistan. Finally, she discovers herself as a captive who is being interrogated at the United Nations incarceration centre.
The audience will be able to see Adah Sharma in the lead role in this movie along with actors like Yogita Bihani, Siddhi Idnani and Sonia Balani.
The Series Of Controversies
As it is clear, it is the plot of the story that is a stimulant of all the controversies. Here are some of the major controversies that The Kerala Story has created:
- The movie makers claim that it is based on the true story of the forced conversion of about 32,000 women in Kerala by the the-then powerful militant group ISIS. This militant group even took these women to ISIS-ruled Syria and made them join ISIS.
- Many sources claim that even though the movie claims to be based on a true story, the statistics that have been demonstrated are not backed by any verified evidence. They also claim that the number 32,000is a marketing gimmick to promote the movie.
- The movie is being heavily criticized by non-BJP states as well as the BJP opposition for unnecessarily spreading hatred against Muslims.
- After fact-checking this number’32,000’was revised to 3. So, the movie finally depicted three Keralite women and their horrendous life experiences under ISIS. However, Sen churned up further controversies by indicating that the actual but unofficial number is not even 32,000 it is actually 50,0000.
- There is heavy opposition in India against the projection of marital sex as marital rape. In such a scenario, a scene in The Kerala Story shows that a pregnant Muslim woman is being literally raped by her husband in the name of ‘husband’s duty.’ So, this is again a controversial topic present in the movie.
- After the female characters break free from the ISIS rule, they are shown to burn their burqas as a sign of empowerment and freedom. This has spiced up controversies on the grounds of anti-Muslim religious prejudices.
- Religious controversies have also been generated regarding Nima’s character because it is being argued that the movie makers have wittily used this character to lodge a call for Christian liberty in Kerala.
- Immediately after the release, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court that The Kerala Story has audio-visual contents and speeches that are religiously prejudiced and spread hatred against Islam.
- But, the Supreme Court turned down the petition indicating that there are no religion specific hate speeches in the movie. Instead, the Supreme Court claimed that the censor board has cleared the movie and given it a certification.
- Politicians like Shashi Tharoor and Pinarayi Vijayan claimed that the movie is a cheap propaganda for the Sangh Parivar and gross exaggeration and nasty manipulation of Kerala’s reality.
At the gross level, it is said that India has always celebrated secularism. Presently, the country is at a juncture where there must be serious thoughts about the perils of religious hatred and fanaticism, The Kerala Story is simply spreading religious indoctrination and radicalization against Islam.
However, the comments of Sen indicate are otherwise. According to the director of the movie, the movie projects a reality that never came to the surface ever.
Whatever may be the reality, these controversies are indeed raising interest among the Indian audience to watch The Kerala Story. So, presently, it is a must watch movie for sure.
Ms. Apara Bhattacharya
Bureau Chief – Kolkatta
Ms. Shail Raghuvanshi