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The Kerala Story Impact: Notice At Jagannath Temple Creates Stir

| Updated: May 22, 2023 6:58 pm

First Kashmir Files and now The Kerala Story. Two films that evoked the power of strong content. Their compelling stories of radicalisation and deceit have had a strong hold on a massive section of film viewers. The Kerala Story, set in the backdrop of Kerala, claims to narrate the plight of Christian and Hindu women — 32,000 in all — whose minds were adulterated, as they were forced to join the Islamic State group. It attempts to depict the reality of what the missing women from Kerala went through.

The film has already recorded staggering box-office numbers — Rs 198.47 crore at the time of writing this piece — but it’s not about being listed among the highest grossers. An episode in Ahmedabad is indicative of the way it has touched raw nerves. 

A notice board had been displayed at Ahmedabad’s Jagannath temple, urging people to watch the movie.

It’s understood that the notice was an appeal to create awareness among children about Sanatan Hindu religion and culture. However, the notice has divided public opinion, for it’s being held that such kinds of messages do more harm. After all, it’s the responsibility of parents and schools, colleges and universities to educate.

The message insinuated that the film revolved around Love Jihad and why parents, other than helping children consider fulfilling careers, should also invest time in imparting knowledge about their religion. In the film, a girl tells her father that her parents too are criminals, for they never made an effort to make them understand their religion or culture. The underlying theme is that the modern Hindu girl is largely ignorant of the deities: Lord Shiva, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. 

It has emerged that the message was penned by Amthabhai Rabari, an advocate and influencer of sorts, who had written similar notices in the past. According to reports, he was the hand behind messages across temples in Ahmedabad, including the Bhimnath Mahadev temple in Paldi and the Samartheswar temple in Law Garden.

The notice was missing when Vibes of India visited the Jagannath temple. The temple’s priests and servants avoided giving clear answers when asked about the notice board that has created a stir in the city. 

Earlier, cynics panned The Kerala Story as a malicious attempt to stoke religious fanaticism although the makers of the film said it was based on extensive research. 

Critics have berated it as propaganda aimed to stoke religious disharmony and Islamophobia. The Time.com reports: “In Kerala, which has a population of 33 million—of which 27% are Muslim and 18% are Christian, according to the last census in 2011—politicians and leaders have alleged that the film is part of a larger campaign that’s trying to provoke religious and communal tensions in one of India’s most socially progressive states.”

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While it has received overwhelming support from the ruling party, the BJP, other states like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have avoided screening it, fearing communal tension. 

But the film is facing legal challenges too. Its producers have threatened legal action against the ban imposed by the West Bengal government. Amid the political storm, the filmmakers reportedly updated The Kerala Story’s description on a video-sharing platform, calling it a “compilation of the true stories of three young girls from different parts of Kerala.”

Read Also: SC Stays Ban On The Kerala Story But Wants Disclaimer

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