The movie “The Kerala Story” portrays the experiences of three young girls from Kerala who are targeted by an unlawful terror group and persuaded to convert to Islam to fight for an Islamic caliphate. Director Sudipto Sen claims the movie is the result of extensive research on the issue of conversion and trafficking by terror outfits. However, the authenticity of his research is questionable, as the movie rides on the isolated experiences of the three women and magnifies them to show them as universal facts.
The portrayal of Muslims in Bollywood is usually a good-Muslim bad-Muslim narrative, but this movie does not follow that trope. The film has a fair share of monotonous monologues by Asifa, one of the characters, who questions the legitimacy of Hindu gods and justifies that Allah is the true god and all non-believers are going to hell. The movie claims that over 30,000 women have been converted to Islam, but this is an inflated figure based on a statement made by the former chief minister of Kerala in 2012. He stated that around 2,800 women were converted to Islam from 2006 to 2012, but the director calculated the data for ten years taking the given number as a yearly count of conversions.
The message of the movie is clear, and it targets those who have heard “stories” of Hindu suffering and Islamic terrorism in Kerala. The movie spoon-feeds its audience, leaving no room for assumptions. The reality is that The Kerala Story will still be a success because of its target audience.
In conclusion, the authenticity of the director’s research and the portrayal of women and Muslims in the movie are questionable. While the movie may resonate with its target audience, it fails to present a balanced view and instead reinforces stereotypes.