Sunshine Pictures, makers of the film The Kerala Story, told Kerala High Court that the teaser of the movie which claimed 32,000 women from the state were recruited by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) would be taken down from all their social media handles.
The producers offered the assurance even as the high court refused a last-ditch attempt against at getting a stay on the film which is scheduled to release today. The division bench of the high court observed that there was a need to “balance artistic freedom” and that the film’s trailer did not reveal anything controversial in the movie.
“A competent statutory authority like CBFC has examined the movie and found it suitable for publication,” the high court noted in its order.
The Kerala Story, produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, ran into controversies over the alleged demonizing of a minority community. The now-withdrawn teaser—released in November 2022—stated that around 32,000 girls from the state were lured by ISIS, a banned terror organization.
In a fact-check, BOOM found that 'The Kerala Story'’s claim of 32,000 women did not add up.
BOOM recaps the arguments made before the high court today.
Kerala’s secular society will accept film: High Court
After watching the trailer of the film, the Kerala High Court observed that there was nothing controversial about the film. The high court’s observation came on a batch of six pleas that sought a stay on the release of the Sudipto Sen-directed movie.
“Nothing will happen just because a film has been screened,” Justice N Nagaresh said. The bench asserted that Kerala was a secular society and that it would accept the film for what it was.
During arguments, the high court referred to several examples of movies that have portrayed communities in a certain light. “There are umpteen films where Hindu Sanyasi’s are depicted as smugglers and rapists; nothing happens, no one protests, Justice Nagaresh observed.
“There was a movie where a priest spits on an idol and there was no problem. Can you imagine? It's a famous award-winning movie,” HC said referring to what is considered as Kerala’s classical radical film – ‘Nirmalyam’.
After as many as five challenges for a stay across constitutional courts which included the Supreme Court and the Madras High Court, this is probably the first time a court saw the trailer of the film before taking a decision on its fate.
“What is so provocative about the film? What is so offensive about this?” the division bench of the high court asked. “I read that ‘The Kerala Story’ is not based on true events, but inspired by true events,” the bench said.
“What is against Islam? There is no allegation against the religion. The allegation here is against ISIS,” the bench pointed out. The court asserted that the Indian Constitution protected freedom of faith. “You can say my God is the only God,” the bench said.
“If you say this to a person belonging to another religion, is it not offensive? But the Constitution still protects it,” the judge said.