News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Movies » 'Why does India need to be woken up?'

'Why does India need to be woken up?'

May 22, 2023 18:39 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

'Today, in India, if we do good to others, people feel s/he has some motive.'
'Politics has corrupted our minds.'

Made on a shoestring budget, The Kerala Story has emerged a blockbuster.

Ever since its release on May 5, it has been at the centre of a political storm, with some praising it and others labelling it as a 'propaganda film'.

While Producer Vipul Shah insists the film is 'not against Muslims', its leading lady Adah Sharma wants it to be 'the scariest horror story one has seen' because of the story it tells.

At a media interaction in Mumbai last week, Shah and Director Sudipto Sen introduced women who they claim are 26 victims of forceful conversion to the media.

When asked why they could not bring the three girls who joined ISIS, the producer said, "We can't reach out to them... The girls are beyond our reach." Contributor Mohnish Singh listens in.

Though your film directly does not talk about any religion in particular, there is not a single redeeming person from the Muslim community seen in the film.

Sudipto Sen: As you said that, you have understood that this film is not about any religion. It is not about Hindus, Muslims or Christians, or anybody. It is about three girls who represent the sufferings of thousands of girls who get converted.

Now coming to the characterisation, it was not about showing a few Hindus or Muslims in a good light. We were not here to do the balancing act. We wanted to tell the story the way it happened.

Each and every word and visual shown in the film is correct.

How far it is correct, you can cross-question with them (pointing to the alleged victims on stage).

Our film is about terrorism. Now, this sinister plan of terrorism has been hatched on the world. Not only India, but America is also suffering. So is Europe and Australia.

In other countries, they have separated the terror network.

When it comes to their state, the Opposition and the party in power are together; terrorism is on the other side.

It is said that terrorism has no religion, but unfortunately, when it comes to Kerala, when we started talking about terrorism, people immediately started talking about religion.

I think you know how terrorists misuse religion.

I don't think you need the example from Kerala to understand how Islam is being used in the world.

So I think we have done a service to the Islamic religion by telling people that this religion is being misused.

You will be surprised to know the messages and e-mails -- you can see them on Instagram and Twitter -- we are getting. People were abusing us from the day our trailer released.

After watching the film, a 21-year-old girl from Kerala wrote, 'Sorry bhaiya, I abused you over the last 10 days for defaming my religion. After watching the film, we realised that you have done service to the nation.'

You can go and check. I did not delete it.

Every patriotic Indian should see the film to know the danger we are in.

The radicalisation of Kerala has reached a dangerous level.

A few days back, (I saw) a video of a nine-year-old boy, sitting on the shoulders of his father, shouting death for Hindus and Christians.

So, this radicalisation in Kerala has reached that level.

Without taking the name of any religion, we have done service to the nation and to these girls.

Vipul Shah: I would have felt more comfortable if we spoke about the pain of the girls.

You are worried about some iconography; you are not worried about these girls getting trapped.

I feel we are doing a disservice to these girls and every victim by focusing on that side rather than focusing on the girls.


Human was a Web series that talked about the issues in the medical world. Then, you have produced The Kerala Story. As a film-maker, you are taking steps towards creating social awareness. Is it a conscious thought of doing projects which will create awareness?

Vipul Shah: When Sudipto Sen came to me and narrated the script, I felt it was my duty to make this film.

More than anything else, I felt compelled.

I felt that if we are not going to tackle these subjects -- and we knew the challenges; we knew that we would be labelled a propaganda film, and every criticism that was going to come our way -- that were so humane...

That's why when somebody ask certain questions, we get emotional because, at this point of time, we should talk about what is happening.

These girls, their lives, that should be our priority, that should be our concern.

We get emotional because we feel why aren't we able to look at their pain and what they are going through? Why does the country need to be woken up? Even after this film, we still need to be woken up.

It makes us really emotionally, angry sometimes, but that's the reason why I made the film. And I am very proud.

All these girls are brave girls. They knew what they were getting into.

We knew we would get labelled and yet, we have made it with our intensity, our integrity and truth, and that's what matters at the end of the day.

Today, we are very happy that at least, the nation is talking about this subject.

The Kerala Story will come and go, but this topic should not.

This topic should remain at the centre of the nation's conversations.

What about the concerns that the film targets the Muslim community?

Vipul Shah: Let me tell you a simple thing. Sholay had Gabbar Singh as the main villain. Does that mean Director Ramesh Sippy is against the Singh community?

In Singham Returns, the villain was a priest. Does that mean the makers were trying to villainise the Hindu saints and the Hindu community? Of course not.

That's a character in that film.

Similarly, in our film, certain characters are terrorists. When you didn't raise these questions during the release of Sholay and Singham Returns, why now?

Why can't we say 'this film is against terrorism, let's applaud it'?

Instead, we are trying to hint that 'yeh film toh kisi taraf ishara kar rahi hai.'

This film is about three girls whose lives were destroyed.

Har film ka villain kisi na kisi religion se belong karta hai. There can't be a villain who doesn't belong to any religion.

How many times have you raised this question? Why ask this question today?

Why can't we focus on these women?

Why couldn't you bring here those girls, who have actually been the victims of terrorism and ISIS?

Vipul Shah: We can't reach out to them.

The story is about Shalini, who is in jail in Afghanistan. We have placed the testimony of Nima at the end of our film.

We also have shown the testimonial of Geetanjali and her parents.

But the girls are beyond our reach.

Sudipto Sen: I want to add here. We didn't mean to just exhibit girls in our film. We have tried to tell a humanitarian story.

The parents of Geetanjali, who you have seen at the end of the film, wanted to be present here today to support us. But they live in a distant land and it would take them three days to reach here.

We never mentioned that 50,000 to 70,000 girls went to ISIS. People have been sending proofs from different parts of the world.

A few days back, we got news from a magazine named Pioneer New York that ISIS has impregnated 42,000 girls.

We didn't want to celebrate it, we just wanted to share the story of three lovely girls and we did tell the story and through that story, we targeted a great issue worldwide.

If Shruti starts to share her story now, believe me, we will be staying here till night. You will be in tears.

Today, in India, if we do good to others and to the poor, people feel he or she has some motive behind it.

Politics has corrupted our minds.

No one is able to feel what these girls are feeling because we think there is a political angle to it and that has really pained us.

Your film is getting a lot of support from a particular political party. What's your comment on that?

What is important is that this film is bringing the pain of these girls to the fore. If anybody, irrespective of any party or any political ideology, wants to support their cause, we will welcome them.

We invite all political parties to come together.

If this topic has touched the chord of one political party and if the other political parties don't want to feel their pain, that's their choice.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: