Sudipto Sen’s ‘The Kerala Story’ created a buzz months before its release by claiming that 32,000 young Christian and Hindu girls from the state were brainwashed to join the Islamic State. The trailer also hinted at this figure, but the filmmakers recently backtracked and reduced the number to just three. While the movie was not stopped from releasing on May 5, its undercooked facts and negative portrayal of Muslims are likely to turn audiences away from theatres.
The movie revolves around three girls who study at National Nursing Institute in Kasaragod and are roommates. Asifa joins them and deviously plans their conversion to Islam, displaying intolerance towards Hindu gods and Christian beliefs. The unfair treatment of Asifa seems intended for religious polarisation rather than creating a character with gray shades. Even the Left is not spared, with one of the girls proudly claiming her father is an atheist and a Communist but later accusing him of keeping her away from religion.
The movie fails to expose how the IS has infiltrated the state, and the director paints a whole community in a bad light by keeping the IS in the background. The title, ‘The Kerala Story,’ is too far-fetched as the protagonist, though shown as a Malayali, does not speak fluent Malayalam. Despite Sen’s efforts to depict the story as set in Kerala, audiences cannot relate to the Malayali girls or the story. The dialogues seem like religious propaganda, and the acting is passable at best. These factors are likely to make audiences rush to the exit.