The Kerala Story comes riding on a raging controversy. The filmmakers, director Sudipto Sen and creative producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah, insist that their film is based on the ‘true story of 32,000 young women’ from Kerala who were held captive in ISIS camps on the border of Afghanistan-Turkey-Syria after having been converted to Islam. Those who have been vociferously protesting, and this includes the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, have called the film out for being nothing but a clutch of blatant lies, and likened it to hate speech.
In the past week, this figure of ‘32,000’ which was mentioned in the film’s trailer, has been reduced to 3. This changes everything: the makers have practically admitted that their initial figure was highly exaggerated, and to extrapolate its sweeping claim from such a miniscule figure is nothing but gross misrepresentation.
Bright girl Shalini Unnikrishnan (Adah Sharma) fetches up at a nursing college in Kasargod. Of her three roommates, one is Hindu, the other is Christian, and the third, Muslim, the kind of mix so easily to be found in Kerala. Right from the get-go, Asifa (Sonia Balani) starts her mission of brain-washing the other three: girls who wear the hijab are safe from the lecherous eyes of men; other gods are weak; and only Allah can save the ‘kaafirs’ who will otherwise have to face (dozakh) hellfire and damnation. Personable young men whose job is to ensnare and impregnate unsuspecting young women, and crafty maulvis are part of the mix, and within no time at all, Shalini, Nimah (Yogita Bihani) and Geetanjali (Siddhi Idnani) have fallen under Asifa’s spell.
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Adah Sharma delivers a decent performance and she is good in few intense scenes in second half. But sadly it comes in an agenda driven film full of factual blunders. Except Adah, no other girl leaves any mark and rest of the actors are amateurish and mediocre.
Written by Sudipto Sen with Suryapal Singh, and Amrutlal Shah, The Kerala Story is a film that claims a lot but also forgets to substantiate what it says. Just like The Kashmir Files. Also, one must remember how Sen was on the jury at the International Film Festival Of India (IFFI), where chairperson Nadav Lapid called Vivek Agnihotri’s directorial a propoganda, and Sen was the first to distance himself from Lapid’s comments. Which means the ideology is somewhere similar. So when The Kerala Story decides to show you violence like it comes handy to one community, and innocence is the treasure of one, you must not be surprised.
Sudipto Sen has directed one hell of a bad film. Film is badly shot and very amateurishly edited. Background score to art direction, not a single technical aspect is tolerable.
Almost every shot of the film is laughable and film is full with factual errors and cinematic blunders. Film is set in Kasaragod and beaches over there but from beach to tress, everything seems out of place.
Never does the film that claims to tell the story of Kerala look like it has been shot in that part of the world. Nor do the actors – their accents are as horrid as the film – look remotely like people who were born and raised in Kerala. A simple shot late in the film is enough to sum up what is wrong with The Kerala Story apart from its lopsided, selective and alarmist theorising about the state’s global terror links. On a beach stands a dried-up tree that looks like a prop put there for no particular reason.
But on contrary, despite poor quality film might work at box office due to polarised view for particular community. If night draw one wing in huge numbers to theatres.
Critics Rating: 1/5
Box Office Rating: 4/5
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