The Kerala Story: Amid row, ‘32,000 missing women’ changed to ‘3 women’

The Kerala Story's claim that ‘32,000 missing women’ in Kerala were brainwashed and sent on terror missions of the ISIS has led to accusations of misinformation and defamation

The Kerala Story,
Directed by Sudipto Sen, 'The Kerala Story' portrays a narrative alleging forced conversions of women from Kerala to Islam and their recruitment into the terrorist organisation Islamic State (IS).

Amid the raging controversy surrounding the film, the producers of the upcoming film The Kerala Story, directed by Sudipto Sen, have changed the text of the film’s introduction in its latest teasers on YouTube.

The previous version of the text claimed that 32,000 women have gone missing from Kerala, which sparked major criticism and opposition from political leaders and the public.

The new version of the text in the teasers states that three women were brainwashed, converted and sent on terror missions in India and abroad. The film stars Adah Sharma and is scheduled to be released on May 5.

Also read: The Kerala Story: State up in arms against Sudipto Sen’s ‘right-wing propaganda film’

The film’s claim of ‘32,000 missing women’ in Kerala has led to accusations of misinformation and defamation.  A user on Twitter, @Advaidism, wrote on Tuesday:  “It can’t be 32K because according to the United Nations, less than 5,000 women joined ISIS and 87% of them were from Europe, Middle East and North Africa. Vilifying an entire state and community is a planned propaganda, which many have been calling out here.”

Political leaders from both the ruling CPI(M)-led Left and the UDF have demanded that the film should not be screened.  The Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly, V.D. Satheesan, has stated that they will not allow anyone to spread false information in the name of freedom of expression.

A petition seeking a ban on the screening of the film was filed before the Kerala High Court on Tuesday, adding to the ongoing controversy.

Also read: SC throws out plea seeking stay on release of movie “The Kerala Story”

‘Not the Kerala story of the people’

Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor had waded in the controversy on Sunday. He had tweeted his disapproval of the film, stating that it may be the filmmakers’ Kerala story, but it was not the Kerala story of the people. This was accompanied by a poster of the film that claimed to “uncover the truth that was kept hidden.”

Also read: ‘The Kerala Story’ may be story of your Kerala, not ours, says Shashi Tharoor

Tharoor clarified on Monday, stating that that he was not calling for a ban on the film. In a tweet, he stressed on the importance of freedom of expression while also acknowledging that Keralites have the right to express their dissent over the film’s portrayal of their reality.

Tharoor’s position on the screening of the controversial film seems to differ from that of the Congress’s state unit, which has urged the Kerala government not to allow the screening of the film. According to the state unit, the film was “full of lies and painted the Muslim community in a bad light.”