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Controversial ‘The Kerala Story’ to be released on May 5, trailer out

Controversial ‘The Kerala Story’ to be released on May 5, trailer out

The Kerala Story, the social drama which courted controversy with its teaser in November last year claiming that 32,000 women from Kerala were forcibly converted and allegedly recruited to the militant outfit ISIS, is now set to be releasing in theatres on May 5.

In a press note issued Monday, the makers announced the release date with a poster that shows a burqa-clad woman with a tagline 'uncovering the truth that was kept hidden'.

The film stars Adah Sharma in the lead role of Shalini Unnikrishnan, a Hindu girl from Kerala who is one among the 32, 000 women converted and coerced into joining ISIS. It is directed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah and according to the makers, is a sharp take on the global terror outfit ISIS and their activities in Kerala.

The trailer opens with the line ‘Shalini Unnikrishnan, a Hindu from Kerala’ and shows Adah Sharma who plays the lead role of Shalini, happy and carefree. The next shot shows her being held captive by two gun-laden women in uniforms, belonging to ISIS.

The trailer also shows some Muslim men instigating others to get into relationships with women and hand them over to them. Further, it shows Adah Sharma’s religious conversion, wedding, and her being trafficked to Pakistan. It also shows Muslim women being manhandled, chained, and tortured.

The film’s teaser released on November 2, claimed that the film unearths what went behind the ‘missing’ of 32,000 women in the state. “A dangerous game is on in Kerala to convert normal girls to dangerous terrorists, that too in front of everyone’s eyes,” Adah Sharma says in the teaser.

The teaser received a lot of flak from several quarters quickly becoming the center of a political storm in Kerala as the makers faced allegations of showcasing inaccurate events.

Fact-checking news website Alt News found that the filmmaker Sudipto Sen had misquoted two former Kerala chief ministers, Oommen Chandy and VS Achuthanandan, while attempting to give his take on the state of affairs in Kerala.

In 2021, in an interview with Citti Media, he said that he arrived at the number 32,000 based on figures given to the Kerala Assembly by former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

However, AltNews reported that there was "no proof" to support this claim.

According to an India Today report published in September 2012, Chandy said that 2,667 young women had converted to Islam in the state since 2006, without mentioning an annual figure, AltNews reported as quoted by The Quint.

The CPI(M) & Congress had strongly opposed the movie while the BJP backed it.

Days after the release of the teaser, a Tamil Nadu journalist petitioned the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Kerala Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, requesting the Board to ban the film unless director Sudipto Sen and asking producer Vipul Amrutal Shah submit documents confirming the veracity of the information presented in the teaser.

Following the complaint, the Kerala Director General of Police (DGP) directed Thiruvananthapuram Police Commissioner to register an FIR against the makers.

K Surendran, the Kerala state president of the BJP, had then criticised the Kerala government for filing a case against the filmmakers saying that the government had no right to register a case as they advocate for freedom of speech and expression.

Congress leader VD Satheesan had also demanded to ban the film for spreading misinformation.

“I have seen that teaser. It’s a clear case of misinformation. There is nothing like that happening in Kerala. This is to tarnish the image of Kerala in front of other states. This is spreading hatred, so it should be banned. In normal scenarios, we are against banning films, but these types of misinformation will lead to communal issues,” the congress party leader was quoted as saying by India Today.

Rajya Sabha member and CPI(M) leader John Brittas also wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah seeking strong action against the makers of The Kerala Story as it, “severely threatens harmony, secularism and national unity apart from defaming Kerala.” He stated that the teaser's claims that 32,000 women from Kerala radicalised to join ISIS terrorist group is "absolutely rubbish and fallacious."

Sudipto Sen had earlier courted controversy in April 2018 with his work In the Name of Love. It is an hour-long documentary on the issue of alleged illegal religious conversion of women in Kerala. Sen had said that it was his patriotic duty to expose the manner in which thousands of girls were converted and trafficked abroad.

The film’s producer Vipul Shah has also been accused of sexual harassment earlier.

In October 2018, during the #MeToo movement, Elnaaz Norouzi, the Iranian model-turned-actor, of Sacred Games fame, alleged that Vipul made a sexual advance on her while they were "auditioning" for a part in his film Namaste England, reported The Quint.

He had, however, approached the IFTDA's Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), which had given him a clean chit in 2019, following an investigation.

The Kerala Story is bankrolled by Sunshine Pictures Private Limited, founded by Shah who is also the creative director and the co-writer of the film.

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