The producer of The Kerala Story, Vipul Shah, said Monday that they will take legal action against the West Bengal government’s ban on showing the film in the state.
Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered an immediate ban on showing the controversial film to avoid “any incident of hatred and violence”.
“If she has done that, we will take legal action again. Whatever is possible under the law, we will fight it,” Vipul Shah said at a news conference when asked about the ban in West Bengal.
The Kerala High Court had refused to stay the release, saying the trailer contained nothing that offends any particular community as a whole. It found that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) reviewed the film and found it fit for public display.
The Kerala Story, which depicts the plight of a group of women in Kerala who are being forced to convert and join ISIS, has created a political storm.
While many BJP leaders have spoken out in their favour, Kerala’s ruling CPI(M) and opposition Congress said the film falsely claimed 32,000 women had been converted and radicalized and used in terror missions both in India and around the world.
The film’s directors, Sudipto Sen and Vipul Shah, called the press conference after several cinemas apparently declined to show the film in Tamil Nadu over fears of protests.
Asked about the potential losses from the ban, Mr Shah said: “We’re not going to talk about win or loss now, we’re just going to try to make sure more and more people watch the film. If any state government or private individual tries to stop the film then we will try all legal avenues.” Producer Shah called The Kerala Story a film about a “serious social issue” and urged the Tamil Nadu government to to ensure a “smooth and fair” release of the film.
“In Tamil Nadu, one person threatened the government and forced it to stop the release,” he said, without naming anyone.
“I urge the government to ensure that the film is released as the Honorable Court has already issued the order. It is the task of the state government to ensure a smooth and fair theatrical release. Let people decide if they want to see it. But this is a totally unacceptable situation,” he added.
On April 6, Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) held a protest in Chennai against the release of the film. Seeman, the party’s coordinator, who is also an actor and director, had been protesting near Anna Nagar Arch along with NTK cadres.
The film earned Rs 35 crore in its opening weekend and Mr Shah said there was a 20 to 30 per cent increase in figures on Monday.
At a rally in Ballari on Friday during the Karnataka election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the film in his speech: “Such a beautiful state of the country where the people are hardworking and talented. The film ‘Kerala Story’ exposes terrorist conspiracies taking place in that state.” Shah said the film has now become of national importance.
“Our Honorable Prime Minister spoke about this film. Other major political parties have spoken about the film, raising the issue as something of national importance. There are some people who have supported and some who are against. Now nobody can ignore it at the national level, which is a great achievement for us,” he added.
The filmmaker said people would have rejected the film if it was a propaganda film.
“It is running successfully in Kerala and next Wednesday or Thursday we will be dubbing the film in Malayalam. We’re trying. We didn’t have any problems in Kerala, which is why it’s so surprising that people saw and appreciated the film in Kerala, but in Tamil Nadu, one person took the state and its government hostage,” he added.
The Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association on Monday condemned West Bengal’s decision to ban the film in the state.
“IFTDA condemns the Bengal government’s ban on Vipul Shah’s film ‘The Kerala Story’. We firmly believe that this violates a filmmaker’s freedom of expression. We stand by the filmmaker and his film as much as we stand by films like ‘Udta Punjab’ and ‘Padmaavat,'” the film body said in a statement.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a syndicated feed.)
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