Filmmaker Sudipto Sen’s The Kerala Story, which is produced and creatively directed by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, tells the story of three young girls Shalini Unnikrishnan (Adah Sharma), Nimah (Yogita Bihani) and Geetanjali (Siddhi Idnani) from Kerala. They form an instant connection after becoming roommates at a nursing institute they join in the same state.
They also have a fourth roommate Asifa (Sonia Balani), who has evil intentions. She tries brainwashing the other three girls in order to get them converted to Islam. Except Nimah, the other two girls fall in the trap. Shalini and Geetanjali also start dating two Muslim guys Rameez (Pranay Pachauri) and Abdul (Pranav Mishra), who also are a part of the same evil mission as Asifa. Shalini, who becomes Fatima after conversion, also gets pregnant with Rameez’s child. She has no idea that her life is all set to get worse at an ISIS terror camp.
The biggest mission for the creative minds behind The Kerala Story was to establish Shalini and Geetanjali’s brainwashing and the subsequent conversion. However, they don’t succeed in this vital aspect and this becomes the film’s biggest minus point. The two girls quite easily start wearing hijab and following the path of Islam. Later, one important character returns to the original faith, which also appears sudden. One can argue that this is a real story, which nobody is denying. But when you make a feature film even on a real story, making the core story believable is the basic criteria.
This ensures that you don’t feel much for the girls even when they are facing severe atrocities. The other issue about the narrative is that by the time the second half arrives, the viewer already knows what has happened with Shalini. The screenplay doesn’t use the flashback style of narration smartly. On top of that, the portrayal of the terrorists, both in India and in the ISIS camp, is far from convincing. They instantly remind you of those one-dimensional terrorist characters from the patriotic action films of the early to mid-2000s.
The creative issues, however, aren’t the biggest problem with The Kerala Story. What is more alarming is the intention of the makers. It’s impossible to not think about this aspect when the makers make it loud and clear whom they are trying to please and who is helping them in their mission.
When the trailer of The Kerala Story was out, the film’s description on YouTube said that this is a story of 32000 girls. But when questions were raised and they were asked to prove their claim, they quietly replaced 32000 with just 3 (see the screenshot below). When AltNews asked director Sudipto Sen about the claim, he couldn’t give a convincing answer (read the article HERE).
The bigger worry with The Kerala Story is that they are largely helped by people of one political party in gaining viewers. One can find various examples of its leaders bulk booking the tickets and distributing them for free to the people. A Facebook post by Darshan Mondkar has quite a few examples (see it HERE).
Hence, The Kerala Story can’t be dismissed as just a movie. It’s a plan to spread a worrying ideology before important elections, which includes vilifying people of one community.
Also read: When SRK did a panchayat 33 years ago