The Kerala Story: a movie with preposterous claims peppered with Islamophobia

The movie’s teaser and trailer has met with much criticism from all fronts accusing the director-producers for making outrageous claims about conversions and women “joining the ISIS”

The trailer of Vipul Shah-produced and Sudipto Sen-directed “The Kerala Story” was released this week and the movie is scheduled to be released on May 5 in theatres all over the country. The movie, which is along the lines of ‘The Kashmir Files’ when it comes to spreading false propaganda has already received the approval of the commercial news media, which is aggressively defending the forthcoming movie and with this effort, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well. When its trailer came was released in November last year, the Kerala Police registered an FIR under the Kerala DGP’s directions as a journalist had filed a complaint against the film. In the teaser, the lead protagonist of the film claimed that 32,000 women from Kerala were first “converted and then sent to join the terrorist group, ISIS.”

This claim had baffled many. People started demanding that the makers of the movie give proof of such claims. The fact checking website, AltNews delved deep into these claims and found that the Director, Sen, had based it on an absurd mathematical calculation. According to the AltNews report, Sen, in an interview on YouTube channel ‘The Festival of Bharat’ had said, “In 2010, former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy made a statement before the Kerala assembly. Before my camera, he denied that anything had happened. But in 2010, I documented a case where he (Chandy) said that every year approximately 2,800 to 3,200 girls were taking up Islam. Just calculate it for the following 10 years, and the number is around 32,000.”

Even in this statement that Sen has recently made, where he states that so many girls “were converted to Islam,” there is no record or proof of the corollary: that they were converted and then recruited for the ISIS! Clearly, such a brazen discrepancy in his claims, through his film and then on camera makes it evident that his statements have no basis.

The AltNews report had also found that India Today had reported in 2012 that Oomen Chandy informed the state legislature that 2,667 young women converted to Islam in the state since 2006” (that is, from 2006 to 2012). Again, these are numbers included those women who had converted and did not reflect any data pf those “who joined ISIS after conversion.”

The teaser that was released in November 2022 appeared as if it was a real woman (actual real-life woman) speaking of her experience on camera. Many shared it on social media portraying it as an account of a real person and some news houses like the India Today, had to issue a fact check saying that it is only a movie preview and not a true story.

However, this week after the trailer has been released, again the teaser starts with the claim that the movie “is inspired by many true stories”. People opposing the propaganda of the film have repeatedly sought the evidence behind such claims.

John Brittas, CPI-M member of Rajya Sabha, had written to Union home minister Amit Shah in November 2022 seeking stringent action against the makers of the film and had said that while the film claims that 32,000 women were converted and sent to ISIS, the Union home ministry puts the number at 155 all over the country.

It is believed that the film is based on lives of four couples who had left for Afghanistan in 2016 to live under Islamic law (by the claims of the film). The Print, in a visual representation showed, who they were and where they came from in Kerala.