A day after the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) sought a ban on staging of the Malayalam play Kakkukali, its director Job Madathil on Tuesday accused the critics of having an agenda behind their charges and urged them to watch the drama first.
A play based on a story by Malayalam writer Francis Noronha, Kakkukali revolves around a young nun and the struggles and challenges which she comes across in a convent.
The KCBC has been critical of it for some time, alleging that it defamed Christian asceticism.
Reacting to the raging controversy, Madathil said the play has been staged in the state for the past one year and has already been performed at 17 venues.
Neythal Nataka Sangham in Alappuzha district had given a stage adaptation to Noronha's story under the direction of Madathil.
"The drama discusses the issues in connection with a young woman joining a Christian convent. It speaks against the patriarchal clergy," he told a TV channel.
Accusing those coming out against the play of having an agenda, Madathil urged them to watch the play first before criticising it and understand what it is trying to convey.
He also urged them to point out the provocative portions of the play.
Meanwhile, political parties in the state on Tuesday continued to come out supporting and opposing the play.
Coming down heavily on the play and its makers, KPCC chief K Sudhakaran said the Christian community has played a significant role in the educational and socio-cultural development of Kerala, and the drama Kakkukali which humiliates the Christian community, is a matter of concern.
In a Facebook post, he said the makers of the play should understand that this is a time when fake propaganda is being spread like wildfire through social media.
When such creative works, keeping the entire priest community in bad light, are made in the name of freedom of expression, it actually results in triggering animosity in society, Sudhakaran said.
Criticising the Left government in the state, he said it was a dangerous tendency for it to "propagate" the drama when the Christian community expressed its anxiety against it.
He further charged the drama "degrades" the Christian community that has made countless contributions to society and "hails" the Communist movement.
Kakkukali is not suitable for a period that witnesses the Sangh Parivar forces and the Left movements jointly injecting hatred and communalism in the minds of people, he alleged.
"We express our concern over the humiliation suffered by the Christian community and the clergy in connection with the play," the KPCC chief added.
Meanwhile, CPI-M state secretary M V Govindan said if there is any issue with regard to the play, it should be examined.
The Marxist party has never taken a stand criticising any religion or its beliefs openly, he told reporters in Kannur.
He said he watched the play Kakkukali earlier, and each person is seeing it from their own individual perspective.
Govindan had earlier rejected the demand for banning the drama and said those who oppose it have the right to criticise its content.
In a statement, KCBC president Cardinal Baselios Cleemis claimed on Monday that Kakkukali created a misunderstanding about asceticism in Christianity among other religious groups.
He criticised the stand of certain mainstream political parties on the matter.
The cardinal said asceticism was the most beautiful expression of the Christian faith and alleged that there was a "secret agenda" behind the "invalidation" of the contributions of Christian congregations for centuries in the fields of education, charity, social service and patient care and the creation of misleading stories about them.