Tamil Nadu, an Indian state, is on high alert in anticipation of the release of Sudipto Sen’s film, The Kerala Story, which is considered controversial due to conflicting opinions on its content. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan believes that the film is spreading lies with the aim of creating communal polarisation, while BJP politician Sobha Surendran thinks that it tells the true story of Kerala’s migration to the path of terrorism.
Tamil Nadu is particularly concerned because of protests against the film from some groups, and some Islamic groups have even asked for a ban on the film. However, both Tamil Nadu and Kerala have not banned the film, but have alerted law enforcement agencies to remain vigilant.
The controversy started with the trailer of the film, which suggested that tens of thousands of non-Muslim girls had disappeared from Kerala and joined terrorist groups like ISIS. Critics have dismissed this claim as incredible, but the filmmakers insist that it is true.
The film follows a group of young women in Kerala who are converted to Islam, radicalised, and recruited to fight for ISIS. The film claims to tell the never-told-before true story of a dangerous conspiracy that has been hatched against India. It suggests that thousands of innocent women have been systematically converted, radicalised, and their lives destroyed, and that it is their side of the story.
Initially, the description of the video on YouTube claimed that 32,000 women were involved in this conspiracy, but the number was quietly changed after the controversy erupted. The director of the film, Sen, stated in an interview that the then-Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, had said that every year around 2,800-3,200 girls in Kerala were converted to Islam.
According to Sen, this number calculated over ten years gives around 32,000 to 33,000 girls. However, Chandy denied making this statement, but Sen claims to have proof.
The film will be released on May 5 in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam languages across India. A US State Department report from 2020 stated that there were 66 known Indian-origin fighters affiliated with ISIS. Indian authorities have arrested 155 ISIS operatives and sympathisers across the country.