THE CONTROVERSY AROUND “THE KERALA STORY”
Author: Jayana Mishra, I year of B.A.,LL.B. from Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University
The country like India is not only famous for its diversity in terms of population, language, culture, religion topography etc. but also for how diverse its film industry is. We see that as we have variety in every sense and have various cinematic variations as well. Where on one hand we have mass cinema where people like films like bhool bhulaiyaa 2 , KGF ,Pathaan, Tu Jhoothi Mein Makkar etc. on the other end we have films that are cinefile credited like Freddy, PonniyinSelvan, Kantara and many more films which are masterpiece in terms of story narration.
Having this division and many other division like big budget or small budget, language etc. we must denote that in the present time film making has become an essential ingredient in the life of a common man where the common people get extremely engaged in the process of watching film and resonate their feelings and sentiments with the film as well as the people associated with that film whether it be the actor working in that film that people respect or the story of the film that they resonate with or any other such reason that can be identified. What is important to note is that there exists such an environment that there is a tendency to be very emotionally involved in this majestic story telling. We have the example of Padmaavat which was in controversy because it was alleged that the film hurted the sentiments of rajputs by portraying their respectable and much celebrated queen Padmavati dancing while her waist was visible. Even though this incident is not the only incident that I can recognize but it was historic as it saw violence indulged. In this dynamic we see that film makers make films such as the Kerala Story and the Kashmir files which are controversial in their own sense. Herein I will be discussing particularly about the Kerala Story.
In the year 2020 during the last around December when the Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister yogi adityanath brought an ordianace for a law prohibiting the so called love jihad there was a huge bow of criticism and justification around it.. It is not clear how an ordinance was promulgated when the evidence of existence of ‘love jihad’ itself was contended.UP’s ordinance prohibited any person from converting another “by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, fraudulent means or marriage”. A complaint can be filed by an affected party or a relative. The punishment was fixed as one year that could be extended to five year .So when this decision of Uttar Pradesh government came into light it was condemned and lambasted throughout the country and the state. So when we have film like the Kerala story it was obvious for the film to run into controversy. [i]
The story of the film revolves around the life of three girls who take admission into a nursing college and they end up being devastated. The story starts with a camp of united nations peace keeping forces where they are interrogating a girl named Fatima , real name- Shalini Unnikrishnan allegedly the member of ISIS . When they start to interrogate her she tells that she was not supposed to join such campaign but her brain and brain of thousand girls like her is brainwashed for such inhumane motive by luring them towards the religion of Islam and making them feel disgust of their own religion. She tells that when she got admission into the nursing college where she met her roommate Asifa who on various instance use to discuss the practices of religion of Islam and use to point out about their religion as being questionable. She was then introduced to that roommate’s cousin then they end up being physical and move to Syria. When that cousin betrayed Shalini she was converted by misleading her and was married to another man and sent to Syria via Sri Lanka. She realized that all this was a trap via a call of her friend who told to her that she was raped multiple time by the friend of Asifa and the other friend of them committed suicide as her private photos were leaked. She then manages to elope in Afghanistan and ends up at the camp.
So this story ran into the controversy for the reason that firstly the number that it claimed of girls who are being converted namely 32000 was not statistically valid via any medium also it was alleged to hurt the sentiments of the people. So there was petition in the Supreme Court to stop its screening but the court rejected it by saying that does not have anything disrespectful towards Islam. Even thoughgovernment of west Bengal and Tamil nadu banned it. [ii]
[i]https://article-14.com/post/uttar-pradesh-s-love-jihad-law-is-sexist-unconstitutional#:~:text=UP's%20ordinance%20prohibits%20any%20person,affected%20party%20or%20a%20relative. https://www.thequint.com/opinion/burden-of-proof-why-employ-up-love-jihad-act-when-other-laws-exist https://thewire.in/communalism/uttar-pradeshs-love-jihad-law-is-a-moment-of-glory-for-hindutva-foot-soldiers [ii]https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-65606602 https://www.indiatoday.in/movies/bollywood/story/the-kerala-story-producer-vipul-shah-finally-addresses-controversy-around-32000-girls-forced-into-conversion-watch-2380446-2023-05-17#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20first%20reasons,to%20that%20of%20three%20women. https://m.timesofindia.com/videos/entertainment/hindi/political-controversy-around-the-kerala-story-refuses-to-die-down-now-mp-cm-shivraj-singh-chouhan-backs-adah-sharma-starrer-movie/videoshow/100294964.cms