‘The Kerala Story’ producer Vipul Shah said on Monday he would take legal action against the West Bengal government’s ban on the screening of the film in the state.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered an immediate ban on the screening of the controversial film to avoid “any incidents of hatred and violence”.
“If that’s what she did, we’ll take legal action again. Whatever is possible under the provisions of the law, we will fight against it,” Vipul Shah told a press conference when asked about the ban in West Bengal.
The Kerala High Court had refused to suspend the release and said the trailer did not contain anything offensive to any particular community as a whole. He noted that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) reviewed the film and found it suitable for public exhibition.
“The Kerala Story”, which depicts the plight of a group of Kerala women who are forced to convert and join ISIS, has sparked a political storm.
While many BJP leaders came out in favor of it, the ruling CPI(M) and opposition Kerala Congress said the film falsely claimed that 32,000 women converted and radicalized and were deployed in terrorist missions in India and around the world.
The film’s director Sudipto Sen and Vipul Shah had called the press conference after several cinemas apparently refused to screen the film in Tamil Nadu for fear of protests.
Asked about the losses he might incur as a result of the ban, Mr Shah said: “We will not talk about profit or loss now, we will only try to get more and more people to watch the movie. If any state government or private person attempts to stop the film, we will try all legal avenues possible. Producer Shah called ‘The Kerala Story’ a film about a ‘serious social issue’ and called on the Tamil Nadu government to ensure a ‘smooth and fair’ release of the film.
“In Tamil Nadu, an individual threatened and forced the government to stop the release,” he said without naming anyone.
“I ask the government to ensure that the film comes out since the honorable court has already given the order. It is the duty of the state government to ensure regular and fair release of the film. Let people decide if they want to see it. But this is a totally unacceptable situation,” he added.
On April 6, Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) organized a protest against the film’s release in Chennai. Seeman, the party coordinator, who is also an actor and director, and NTK executives had demonstrated near Anna Nagar Arch.
The film grossed Rs 35 crore in its opening weekend and Mr Shah said there was a 20-30 per cent increase in figures on Monday.
During a rally in Ballari in Karnataka on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the film in his speech: “Such a beautiful state of the country, where people are hardworking and talented. The film “Kerala Story” brings out the terrorist conspiracies that are going on in this state. Shah said the film has become nationally significant now.
“Our honorable Prime Minister spoke about this film. Other major political parties spoke about the film and presented this subject as something of national importance. There are people who supported and others who opposed Now no one can ignore it at the national level, which is a great achievement for us,” he added.
The filmmaker said people would have rejected the film if it was a propaganda film.
“It is shooting successfully in Kerala and next Wednesday or Thursday we will be dubbing the film into Malayalam. We try that. We didn’t have any problem in Kerala that’s why it’s so surprising that people saw the movie and enjoyed it in Kerala but in Tamil Nadu one person held the state and its government hostage “, he added.
The Indian Film and Television Directors Association on Monday condemned West Bengal’s decision to ban the film in the state.
“IFTDA condemns ban of Vipul Shah’s film ‘The Kerala Story’ by the government of Bengal. We strongly believe this is against a filmmaker’s freedom of expression. We support the filmmaker and his film just as we have done with films like ‘Udta Punjab’ and ‘Padmaavat’,” the film’s body said in a statement.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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