Theatre owners unperturbed over ‘The Kerala Story’ release; Madras HC dismisses PIL

Theatre owners in Kerala seem unperturbed by adverse publicity generated by Hindi film, 'The Kerala Story', which is expected to be shown in around 30 screens across the state on Friday, May 4

The Kerala Story, theatre owners in Kerala, Madras high court
Until now, the bookings for the film, 'The Kerala Story', have been 'average'

Theatre owners in Kerala seem unperturbed by the controversy and adverse publicity generated by Hindi film, ‘The Kerala Story’, which is expected to be shown in around 30 screens across the state on Friday (May 4).

According to theatres owners, the bookings for the film were average, despite the huge adverse publicity generated by it, but were unmoved over the likelihood of any protests or adverse reactions.

Suresh Shenoy, who runs eight theaters in Kochi including the Shenoys multiplex, told PTI, “We do not expect any kind of protests against the film. It is unlikely.”

Average pre-bookings

He said that the film, which will be screened at the multiplex he owns, has received average bookings as expected from a “small Hindi film like this”. However, he also pointed out that ‘The Kashmir Files’, another controversial film that had generated a huge adverse publicity, had started off slow in the state and then went on to become a hit.

Also read: The Kerala Story: SC refuses to direct HC for urgent hearing on CBFC nod, says ‘let market decide’

“Same might happen in this case too. Let us see,” Shenoy said.

Joy Pillai, who owns the Arielplex multiplex in Thiruvananthapuram, too was unconcerned over protests and average bookings. “It is a small Hindi film. Post-COVID, turnout for Hindi films has been low. ‘Pathaan’ was the only exception,” he said.

Both Shenoy and Pillai were also of the view that if not for the adverse publicity due to criticism from political parties and organisations, the film would have been ignored generally.

No one compelled or forced

Meanwhile, Mukesh Mehta of E4 Entertainment, which is helping to distribute the film in Kerala, said that the movie would be shown in around 20-30 screens across the state as it is a Hindi film which will not have a big viewer base.

In response to a query as to whether theatre owners were averse to screening the film because of the opposition to it, especially from certain political parties and organisations, Mehta said no one has been forced or compelled to show the movie in their theatres.

Also read: PIL in Kerala HC against The Kerala Story film; court to hear it on May 5

“They are free to show it or not,” he said. On being asked whether anyone has backed out from showing the film, he said he has not received any such communication. “We will have to wait and see what happens tomorrow. We will only know tomorrow who all will screen the film,” he said.

‘The Kerala Story’, starring Adah Sharma and written and directed by Sudipto Sen, is set to be released in cinemas on May 5. According to the CPI(M) and the Congress in Kerala, the film falsely claims that a significant number of women, about 32,000 got converted and radicalised and were deployed in terror missions in India and the world.

Madras high court dismisses PIL

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a ban on ‘The Kerala Story’.

A division bench of the court said the matter had already been handled by the Supreme Court and the Kerala high court. The PIL was filed by city-based journalist-activist B R Aravindakshan. He tweeted that the case had been “dismissed”, even as he stated that the bench had asked him why he had approached the court in the “last hour”, and that had he come earlier, the court could have asked someone to watch the film and decide.

Also read: ‘The Kerala Story’: Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan warns of legal action

Aravindakshan said he had requested the Centre in November last year “to verify the truth of the information in the teaser of that film.” The film claims that young Hindu women were radicalised and converted to Islam in Kerala and inducted into the terrorist outfit Islamic State (IS).

“But they have issued a censor certificate without taking any action on my petition. So I approached the court as per law to direct the central government to check the number of women who have converted and joined the extremist movement, after 177 days without any other option,” Aravindakshan added.

The Supreme Court had earlier on Thursday refused to entertain a petition challenging the censor board certification granted to the controversial movie.