PM says ‘The Kerala Story’ brings out terror conspiracies
… film releases to protests and polarised views
Ballari/New Delhi: “The Kerala Story”, the hotly debated film on conversion, was at the centre of national discourse on Friday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi crediting it for bringing out terror conspiracies and using it to attack the Congress during a rally in Karnataka.
As the multilingual film premiered across theatres to mixed reviews, polarising audience reactions and protests in some places in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the Kerala High Court refused to stay the release and said the trailer does not contain anything offensive to any particular community as a whole.
In a rally in Ballari in poll-bound Karnataka, the prime minister said, “Such a beautiful state of the country, where people are hardworking and talented. The ‘Kerala Story’ film brings out terror conspiracies happening in that state.”
“It is unfortunate that Congress can be seen standing with this terror trend that is seeking to ruin the country. Congress is even indulging in backdoor political bargaining with people having terror inclinations. People of Karnataka should be cautious about Congress,” Modi added about the opposition party in Karnataka that votes for a new assembly on May 10.
The film, which revolves around a group of women in Kerala who are forced to convert and join the ISIS, was in the news for much of the day — as it has been since its trailer released about a week ago.
The film, starring Adah Sharma, written and directed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Shah, was screened in theatres across the state on the first day of its release. The filmmakers claim it is a compilation of the true stories of three young women from the state.
Kerala’s ruling CPI(M) and opposition Congress have said the film falsely claims that 32,000 women got converted and radicalised and were deployed in terror missions both in India and the world.
According to the Kerala High Court, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has examined the movie and found it suitable for public exhibition.
A bench of Justices N Nagaresh and Sophy Thomas noted the submission made by the producers that they do not intend to retain an “offending teaser” which contained a statement that “32,000 women” from Kerala were converted and joined a terrorist organisation.
The court also noted that the producers have published a disclaimer along with the movie that the film is a dramatised version of events and doesn’t claim accuracy or factuality of historic events.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan told reporters in Ernakulam that he had not yet seen the film.
“What can be my take… I am not in a position to say anything. But if somebody has… they are saying that this is a story based on actual stories? If they are claiming that then I think it is the duty of the government to investigate into the matter,” he told reporters in response to questions.
There were protests by organisations such as the youth wings of the Kerala’s ruling CPM as well as NCP in several places in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Activists of the Nationalist Youth Congress (NYC), the youth wing of the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Fraternity Movement staged a protest in front of a local theatre in Kerala’s commercial hub Kochi.
Holding placards in their hands, the NYC protesters raised slogans in front of the theatre demanding a ban on the movie, which they alleged portrays the southern state in a bad light.
They were later removed from theatre premises by the police.
A group of activists of the Fraternity Movement, including women, marched to the theatre alleging the film was a bundle of lies and part of the Sangh Parivar’s divisive agenda.
The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth outfit of the ruling CPI(M), echoed them, alleging that the Sangh Parivar was fuelling a hate campaign against Kerala.
It said it will launch a massive social media campaign to tell the world about the “real Kerala story”.
In Tamil Nadu, members of the TN Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) demanded a ban on the film for portraying Muslims as terrorists.
TMMK leader and legislator M H Jawahirullah described the movie as a vile campaign to sow seeds of hatred and tension among the people. “The film presents a completely false and dangerous view and has been fabricated as a true story,” he alleged.
In Chennai, a banner displayed outside a theatre where the controversial film was about to be screened was torn during the protest. Over 200 persons were arrested during the protest across the state and they were later released.
Anticipating trouble, a few theatres in the metro withheld the screening of the film.
As his film made headlines once again and got a mention by the prime minister, producer Vipul Shah said he felt vindicated.
“What more can we ask on a day when first in the morning, the Kerala High Court gives such a lovely judgment and none other than the honourable prime minister talks about our film and he highlights the issue that we are trying to highlight through the film,” Shah told PTI.
“We have been saying this is a film against terror, terrorism, it is not against any community, religion and that stand is vindicated…,” he added.
According to Shah, the court’s order is an answer to everybody who was trying to target them and said it was made under some kind of agenda.
In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh BJP secretary Abhijat Mishra urged members to show the films to women to save them from love jihad.
“Show #Kerala_files to save girls from Love Zehad (sic said in a tweet in Hindi, in an apparent reference to “The Kerala Story”
“I will make arrangements to show the movie to 100 girls, you should do the same. Be alert, be safe,” he added.