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Which states are supporting it and which aren’t?

It’s become quite a regular occurrence in India – politics over a movie. First it was Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files and now Sudipto Sen’s The Kerala Story.

The movie, starring Adah Sharma in the lead role, has been at the centre of controversy since its teaser came out in November 2022, claiming that 32,000 women from Kerala were converted to Islam and kidnapped to Syria to join Islamic State. After massive outrage over the unsubstantiated figure, the makers changed it to “3 women” in the trailer.

Now, the movie is making news again with states battling over it. While some are drumming up support for the movie, which has already minted Rs 35 crore in three days, there are others like West Bengal that has banned it. In fact, the eastern state led by Mamata Banerjee has become the first in the country to withdraw the film from theatres.


The Kerala Story: From 32,000 with 3 ISIS women; changed description of the teaser


Why Congress leader Shashi Tharoor slammed The Kerala Story: ‘Not our Kerala story’| Explained

We take a look at which states are supporting The Kerala Story and which are against it.


The Kerala Story is based on incidents that took place in the southern state. The movie has generated a lot of buzz in the state, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan calling it a product of the Sangh Parivar’s “lie factory.”

He was quoted as saying, “Propaganda films and their otherisation of Muslims should be viewed in the context of various efforts made by the Sangh Parivar to gain an advantage in electoral politics in Kerala. Their usual tactics do not work in Kerala, so they are trying to spread their politics of division through the film based on fake stories.”

There was also a slew of petitions placed before the Kerala High Court to prohibit the exhibition of the movie. However, the court had rejected these pleas and refused to declare the ‘A’ certification issued by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) illegal.

The Battle over The Kerala Story Which states are banning the movie where is it taxfree
Police personnel stand guard outside a theatre in Kozhikode during the release day of the film ‘The Kerala Story’. PTI

The court observed that “going through the trailers of the movie, we find that trailers do not contain anything offensive to any particular community as a whole. The fact remains that the petitioners have not watched the movie. We find that a competent statutory body, Central Board of Film Certification, has examined the movie and found that the film is suitable for public exhibition.’’

Justice Nagaresh, who was one of the judges in the Kerala High Court hearing the pleas, had said, “There is something called freedom of speech and expression. They have artistic freedom, we have to balance that also. “What is there in the film that is against Islam? There is no allegation against a religion, but only against the organisation ISIS.”

After the court rejected the pleas, the movie has seen a limited release in theatres owing to the pushback it has received from some corners.

K Vijayakumar, president of the Film Exhibitors United Organisation Kerala, told The Quint that The Kerala Story is currently running in at least 30 theatres across the state. “Multiplexes like PVR and Cinepolis withdrew their screenings because there may have been some pressure from outside,” he alleged, hinting that protests against the film may have had an effect on the shows.

However, there are some who don’t agree with this view. Some trade analysts believe that the collection of the movie has been poor in state and that the audience is opting for other movies such as 2018, Ponniyin Selvan 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy 3.

West Bengal

On Monday, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government banned The Kerala Story in the state, arguing that it may create unrest. It has become the first state to ban it, prompting Union Minister Anurag Thakur to say that it was “beyond his understanding why the Trinamool Congress(TMC) chief’s sympathies were with terror organisations and not with the innocent girls from Kerala”.

The West Bengal’s order to withdraw the movie read, “To avoid any incident of hatred and violence and to maintain peace in the state, the chief minister has directed an immediate ban on screening of The Kerala Story. Action will be taken against any cinema hall that violates the ban.”

Chief Minister Banerjee had earlier alleged that The Kashmir Files was made to humiliate one section of the society whereas The Kerala Story was a distorted movie aimed at defaming the southern state.

BJP’s I-T department head Amit Malviya criticised the chief minister for the ban, saying the decision was unfortunate. “Who is Mamata Banerjee trying to please with this ban? Does she think Muslims of Bengal relate more to the IS than the Indian Constitution? Shame on her regressive politics,” he tweeted.

The BJP in West Bengal also added the ban was an attempt to scuttle free speech and appease a section of the minority community to serve its political interests.

However, the TMC dubbed the allegations against the party as “baseless” and accused the BJP of trying to create a “communal narrative” across the country ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The state government has already said this film aims to create division in the society. As the BJP has nothing to project in terms of development ahead of the Karnataka Assembly polls and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, they are trying to create a communal narrative,” TMC MP Santanu Sen claimed.

Tamil Nadu

The movie has also run into problems in the state of Tamil Nadu. Since the movie released on 5 May, some Muslim political groups and other political parties, including the Naam Tamilar Katchi, have carried out protests against it.

On 7 May, the Tamil Nadu Multiplex Association announced that they would not be screening the movie in the state. President of Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners Association, M Subramaniam, told news agency PTI, “The film was only shown in a few multiplexes owned by pan-India groups, mostly PVR. Locally-owned multiplexes had already decided not to show the film, as it did not have any popular stars. In Coimbatore for instance, there were two shows so far — one on Friday and one on Saturday. Even those did not do well. Given that, theatres decided that it was not worth going through the threat of protests and such.”

The decision by the theatre owners to restrict screening of the movie led state BJP vice-president Narayanan Tirupathi to point fingers at the MK Stalin-led government. Tirupathi accused the state of “systematically blocking” the screenings of the film by “abuse of power”.

He added that the DMK-led government should provide security to those who wanted to screen the movie. Calling the situation dangerous, he said that it appeared as if the government had planned the whole thing.

BJP leader and National Commission for Women member Khushbu Sundar also slammed those opposing the screening of the The Kerala Story.

Madhya Pradesh

While the above states have opposed the movie The Kerala Story, the BJP-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh has made it tax free.

The Battle over The Kerala Story Which states are banning the movie where is it taxfree
BJP workers raise slogans in support of the film ‘The Kerala Story’, in Bhopal. PTI

In a video address, MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “The film shows how the (life of) daughters who get entangled in a the trap of love jihad gets destroyed. It also exposes the design of terrorism.”

“While we have already brought a law against (forced) conversion, the film creates awareness about the issue. This film should be watched by all and that’s why the Madhya Pradesh government is declaring the film tax-free,” he added.

Uttar Pradesh

The northern populous state of Uttar Pradesh has also indicated that it might make the movie tax-free with Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak saying if there is a proposal, the state government will make the film ‘The Kerala Story’ tax-free.

He added, “Everyone should see The Kerala Story. I would appeal to all my sisters that they should watch (the film) and understand how atrocities are committed on sisters in a state.”

And on 9 May, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced that the movie will be tax-free in the state.

His secretariat also added that he could watch the film along with his cabinet colleagues at a special screening to be organised at Lok Bhawan.

The Battle over The Kerala Story Which states are banning the movie where is it taxfree
Women wait at a cinema hall to watch the ‘The Kerala Story’ film in Ahmedabad. PTI


BJP MP Nitesh Rane has also expressed support for the movie and said that Maharashtra should make it tax-free.

He said, “In the context of love jihad, this is a relevant film. It shows the truth of how Hindu women are oppressed and made victims of Love Jihad. Everyone in Maharashtra should watch this movie. I met Sudhir Mungantiwar to ensure that all Hindutva organisations can come forward with this truth.”

“We have requested that this film be made tax-free from the first day itself. Mungantiwar will hold discussions with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on making the film tax-free,” added the BJP leader.


While the state has not declared any statement on the movie, its Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma while campaigning for his party, the BJP, in Karnataka said, “There is a new film The Kerala Story which reveals many things. When the BBC made a film on Modiji making false claims, the Congress was in favour of it. But today the same Congress wants a ban on The Kerala Story,” Himanta said referring to the row that had erupted over the BBC documentary India: The Modi Question.

With inputs from agencies

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