Indian actors Shabana Azmi and Anupam Kher showed their support for the newly released film The Kerala Story, which is being criticised for its controversial and anti-Muslim narrative.
The What’s Love Got to Do with It? actor tweeted, “Those who speak of banning #TheKeralaStory are as wrong as those who wanted to ban Aamir Khan’s #LaalSinghChaadha. Once a film has been passed by the Central Board of Film Certification nobody has the right to become an extra-constitutional authority.”
The Kerala Story is about a group of women from the Indian state of Kerala who are ‘forced’ to convert to Islam and join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The film’s posters show them being happy when dressed in shalwar kameez and then traumatised when dressed in abayas.
Azmi’s tweet came a day after the Tamil Nadu Multiplex Association announced its decision to stop screening the movie in the state amid protests and low audience turnout. The chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, also slammed the makers of the movie, saying that the film creates communal polarisation and spreads hate propaganda against the state.
The actor compared people’s reactions to when the movie Laal Singh Chaadha starring Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor was being released and many had called for a ban of the film for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
The irony is that Azmi previously criticised the Indian censorship system, during the release of the movie Pathaan. “CBFC is not a censorship board. By certification, it means to classify and not censor. Our country follows the UK censorship style in which 30-odd people are chosen by the government from supposedly various walks of life or professions such as educationists, sociologists, etc, and make them sit on judgment to change the morality of the country every five years, according to the political dispensation of that time,” she had said.
“It is not a hidden secret that those people who are taken onboard have an affinity with the ruling party,” she claimed, calling for the adoption of the US system through which filmmakers and artists themselves decide.
Kher said in an interview to ANI News that he hasn’t watched the film yet, but he is “happy people are making films which are close to reality”. “And those who feel it is propaganda are free to make movies dealing with the subject they find perfect. No one is stopping them,” he argued.
The actor was part of the controversial Kashmir Files movie, which was also dubbed anti-Muslim and was the subject of much criticism.
The Kerala High Court refused on Monday to issue a stay order on the release of the film.