The Unforgettable Impact of the Kerala Story

'The Kashmir Files' caused a stir at the national box office in 2022, and now 'The Kerala Story' is the talk of the town. The movie is sensitive and contentious, and just the trailer has made many people queasy. Although it was thought that the movie would never be seen, it was eventually distributed. In order to prevent any unanticipated events, it was shown in numerous theatres under police protection.

A woman who converted to Islam recounts how she was deceived and used as a pawn by religious leaders before being transformed into an ISIS terrorist and sent to Syria. She describes her ordeal after being imprisoned in Afghanistan. Along with her, several of her acquaintances also endured similar agony at the hands of religious xenophobes, though their outcomes differed. One committed suicide and the other was cruelly and frequently raped, and that too while she was asleep. Will these women get justice? Will the main character be able to absolve herself of the crimes being brought up against her? Will she ever be able to return to India?

The plot is on Asifa (Sonia Balani), who shares a room with Shalini Unnikrishnan (Adah Sharma), Nimah (Yogita Bihani), and Siddhi Idnani (Geetanjali) at a nursing college in Kasargod, Kerala. The other three are unaware that Asifa is an ISIS agent tasked with brainwashing and indoctrinating non-Muslim girls in order to convert them to Islam. In an attempt to get close to Shalini and Geetanjali, she plants two Muslim young men who pose as college students. Rameez causes Shalini to become pregnant during the process. He asks her to become a Muslim in order for them to get married, but then he leaves her. Ishaq, a different man, shows up and marries her after converting to Islam and giving her the new name Fathima.

Shalini, or Fatima as she is later known, is portrayed with immense emotion by Adah Sharma in a standout performance. The dedication she brings to nailing the Malayali accent is evident throughout the film. The amateur actresses, including Siddhi Idnani, Sonia Balani, and Yogita Bihani, pour their hearts into their roles, bringing authenticity to their characters. Director Sudipto Sen's choice to tackle an emotionally charged and intricate narrative through disturbing images, situations, and conversations, makes it a challenging watch.

The director of the film has expertly crafted scenes in it that cause spectators to feel naturally uneasy. Striking a balance when talking about delicate topics might be difficult, but Sudipto seems to be able to do it with ease. The sceneries in Afghanistan and the areas around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border have been beautifully captured by Prasantanu Mohapatra. The movie's background music, however, is inadequate. It is overwhelming and takes attention away from the story.

The Kerala Story's writing, which was done by Suryapal Singh, Sudipto Sen, and Vipul Amrutlal Shah, is essentially its most tragic aspect. Although the writing is intriguing enough for a novel, its worldview is flawed. Although it claims to be based on actual events, writers shouldn't have blinkers on and just discuss the negative aspects of one certain religion without including any characters with that background. Now, it just seems as though all Muslims are evil and have this mindset, which is blatantly false.

"The Kerala Story" may not always provide the audience with entertainment value but instead resembles a lecture on radicalization. In addition to this, the film puts forth considerable evidence to support its argument, making it difficult for viewers from diverse communities across the country. After experiencing this thought-provoking and intense film, several questions about India's situation may arise within you. Undoubtedly, this film leaves a harrowing and memorable impact on its viewers.

Nidhi Rachel Alexander