New Delhi: On May 18, the Supreme Court lifted the ban on the much-talked-about film “The Kerala Story” in West Bengal. But even after the Apex Court’s intervention, the film is struggling to get screens in the state.
It has been seven days since the ban was lifted, yet none of the single screens or multiplexes in West Bengal are screening the Film.
The producer of the film, Vipul Shah has opened up on the issue. In a recent interview with News18 Showsha, he said that despite the Supreme Court lifting the ban, the theatre owners are facing difficulty in running the film in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
He claimed that the theatre owners are getting threats from authorities and cops that their licenses will not be renewed if they screen the film, and they will not get protection if theatres are attacked by the goons.
He further added that such a situation is happening in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, the states that pretend to be the safeguard of democracy. He also accused the government of both states of disregarding the order of the Supreme Court.
In an interview with News 18, Satadeep Saha, the distributor of “The Kerala Story” in Bengal said that the theatre owners are not screening the film because they are worried about the probable harm to their properties.
He accused the theatre owners of being silent and not taking any action despite wanting to screen the film.
He further revealed that his father is the exhibitor section’s chairman and has requested the Chief Minister to intervene in the matter.
When asked about his next step, he replied that he can do nothing. He described the entire scenario as ‘’sad and shocking”.
The Ban on the film
The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee announced a ban on the film “The Kerala Story” in her state on May 8. Justifying the ban, the CM said that this action is taken to avoid probable incidents of violence and to maintain peace and harmony.
She also pulled “The Kashmir Files” into the matter and said that such films have distorted stories and are made to humiliate a particular section of society.
Alongside West Bengal, the film is facing a hard run in Tamil Nadu. “The Kerala Story” was not allowed to screen in the theatres of Tamil Nadu.
M Subramaniam, the president of Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners Association, told the news agency PTI that it was not worth releasing the movie amid the threat of protests. Therefore, the film was dropped from the theatres.
Meanwhile, the two BJP-governed states – Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh made the film tax-free.
Supreme court verdict
After the ban on the film in West Bengal, the makers approached the Apex Court to step in. On 18 May, the Supreme Court stayed the ban and asked the Mamata government to not stop the screenings of the film.
The Apex Court asked the authorities in Tamil Nadu to provide security at the theatres to maintain the safety of the audience who are willing to watch the film.
The Court also asked the makers to add two disclaimers to the film that it is a ‘’fictionalized version of events” and “there is no reliable evidence to support the claim that 32,000 people have been converted, or any other number”.
The Number Controversy
The teaser and the initial promos claimed that the film is based on 32,000 Hindu women from the state of Kerala who were converted to Islam and forced to join the Islamic terror group “ISIS”.
The subject matter, and especially the number “32,000” landed the film in trouble, bringing criticism and legal challenges.
Later, amid the controversies surrounding the film, the makers changed the title in the teaser claiming “32,000 women” to “3 women” who have been converted and forced to join ISIS.
Box Office Success
Since its release date, the film “The Kerala Story” has taken the Box Office by storm. The collection of the film was not affected despite the mixed reviews and ban in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. On its first day, the film collected 8.03 crores. It performed better on the weekend, collecting 11 crores on Saturday and a whopping 16.04 crores on Sunday.
The film entered the 200-crore club on its day 20. As of Wednesday, the film stands at 207.9 crores at the box office. Made on a budget of 15-20 crore, the film has been declared an All-time blockbuster.
‘’The Kerala Story” is directed by Sudipto Sen. The film features Adah Sharma as Shalini Unnikrishnan, a Hindu woman from Kerala who is manipulated by her female Muslim friend and gets converted to Islam. And then she is forced to serve as a sex slave in the Islamic terror group center – ISIS.
The film also stars Yogita Bihani, Sonia Balani, and Siddhi Idnani in the supporting roles.