Bollywood Twitter feuds, threat to crew member: 4 reasons why 'The Kerala Story' is making headlines

The film has courted controversy ever since its release, largely due to its claim that tens of thousands of women from the Indian state left to join terrorist organisation Daesh

by

Anjali Garg

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Published: Tue 9 May 2023, 4:17 PM

Last updated: Wed 28 Jun 2023, 3:13 PM

Ever since its release a mere 4 days ago, controversial Hindi-language film 'The Kerala Story' has found itself headfirst in the eye of a storm. The film, centred around a group of women from Kerala who convert to Islam and join Daesh, has been widely criticised for its false claim that thousands of women from Kerala had been converted and recruited into the terrorist organisation.

From Twitter feuds and state-wide bans to the involvement of the Mumbai Police, here are 4 reasons why the contentious film has been making headlines.


1. Factual inaccuracy

Critics have panned the film for its factually inaccurate premise. Although the film has been marketed as one that is based on a real-life incident, viewers note that there is no real evidence to corroborate these statistics. In its trailer, 'The Kerala Story' claimed that 32,000 women from Kerala had gone missing and joined Daesh — yet a 2019 report by the Observer Research Foundation noted that only 60 to 70 individuals from Kerala had joined the terrorist group between 2014 and 2018.

"Such films are made with the calculation of creating violence [and] hatred on the basis of lies and winning elections", politician Jitendra Awhad took to Twitter to say.


2. Crew member of film receives threat; Mumbai Police provides security

A crew member of the movie received a threatening message from an unknown number, according to Mumbai Police. According to authorities, Sudipto Sen, director of the film, said the message threatened the staff member not to leave their house alone, warning that the makers did not "do a good thing" by portraying the story they did.

Mumbai Police provided the crew member with security, but an FIR has not yet been registered – as in order to do so, authorities must receive a written complaint first.

3. Divided states

The unabating political outcry surrounding the movie has divided not just fans and critics, but entire states, too.

On one hand, the film has been unilaterally banned by the state of West Bengal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cited the "maintenance of peace" and the avoidance of "hatred and violence" in the state as the main reason behind the decision.

On the other hand, the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have made the film tax-free. In a tweet, Uttar Pradesh's Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced on Tuesday that the recently released film would be made tax-free in the state.

The Chief Minister, along with his cabinet colleagues, is expected to watch the film at a special screening.

Uttar Pradesh's decision follows in the foosteps of Madhya Pradesh, whose government also made the movie tax-free in the state on May 6.

4. Sparking celebrity Twitter feuds

Adding more fuel to the fire, Bollywood celebrity Kangana Ranaut has now waded into the pool of controversy, offering her two cents on the highly-talked about film and engaging in a war of words with fellow actor Shabana Azmi.

Azmi had earlier tweeted against the ban, saying, “Those who speak of banning The Kerala Story are as wrong as those who wanted to ban Aamir Khan’s #Laal Singh Chaadha. Once a film has been passed by the Central Board of Film Certification nobody has the right to become an extra constitutional authority."

While admitting that Azmi's point was "valid", Ranaut disputed the claim that the ban was the reason behind Laal Singh Chaadha's commercial failure. "This is a very valid point except for the fact that no one asked for a ban on LSC", the actress said. "People just didn’t want to see it for many reasons; [the] major reason was it was a remake of a very popular old Hollywood classic which most people had already seen."

In response, while not directly addressing Ranaut, Azmi asked those claiming no one asked for a ban on LSC to 'refresh their memory', providing a link to an article to support her claim.

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