Our story is about abused women and not a love jihad, says Vipul Amrutlal Shah in The Kerala Story. – Unparalleled
The story of four ladies from Kerala who convert to Islam in order to join ISIS is told in the film The Kerala Story, which was produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah and directed by Sudipto Sen. Following the release of the film’s trailer and teasers, political parties such as the Indian National Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) voiced their opposition to the release, claiming that the film presents a false and derogatory portrayal of Kerala. Alleging that the film was designed to support Sangh Parivar’s goal, the CPI-M and Indian Union Muslim League have urged that it be prohibited from screening in Kerala.
In the midst of the political response, ETimes spoke with the film’s producer, Vipul Amrutlal Shah, who discussed the motivations behind making the film as well as his feelings about the criticism.
Can you tell me about The Kerala Story?
Based on a true incident, The Kerala incident follows the journey of a girl from Kerala who is converted and on her way to Syria. While travelling, she had a change of heart and ran away. Now she is incarcerated in an Afghani prison. Many women and girls are locked up in Afghanistan. We know of at least four cases. That’s how we learned about this tale; later, we discovered there are plenty more like it.
The film focuses on three such girls whose lives were ruined after they were subjected to a coercive conversion. my is what motivated me to write my account. As a result of our investigation, we can confidently say that this figure is staggering. More than a hundred women passed through our paths. We now see the importance of being crystal clear on this matter. The tale must be told in its whole and with no embellishments.
How forthcoming were female participants in your study?
Many more girls than just one or two have given us their accounts on video. Many mothers and fathers are lamenting the deaths of their daughters. We took those accounts and used them as the basis for a script that is 100% accurate. We are aware of the delicate nature of the topic at hand. We took care to avoid creating a film with any offensive content.
The film has been accused of encouraging “Love Jihad” among its audience.
These are human-created concepts used in politics. Our film focuses on the experiences of these young female victims. You can give it whatever name you like. The objective of our film is to encourage viewers to take action to improve their situation.
Is it challenging to tell a story with political overtones and the potential to disrupt social harmony?
We can no longer hide behind the argument that doing so would disrupt community harmony because the topic is “too sensitive.” Do those responsible for these acts care about maintaining peace in the community? They move forth with their own plans. Then, why should we be so concerned about it all the time? Sensitivity must be mutual, not unilateral. There must be two perspectives. If they go through with it, someone will surely reveal it.
In Hinduism, for instance, the practise of Sati has been outlawed since it is considered harmful. You do realise that Hindus made efforts to eradicate this, correct? Knowing that there are millions of Muslims in the United States and throughout the world, I am hoping that the Muslim community will step up and lend its support today. Step forward, arrest the perpetrators, and end the violence. Do the correct thing of your own accord. Why should it be the case that making a film will cause an uproar? There’s no way they don’t know.
We are an old enough and wise enough nation to handle a film like this, in my opinion. That gives me no cause for concern. I think it’s crucial that this story be told, therefore that’s what we’re doing.
When a film becomes politically charged, how should a producer-director respond?
There is an underlying ideology that all political parties adhere to. They will talk about anything that advances their ideas. I don’t think getting political is always a bad thing. The argument deteriorates when it stops being on the matter at hand. To my knowledge, nothing has been brought up that deviates from the fundamental issue. Therefore, I do not object when political parties take a stance. The ladies shouldn’t be overlooked. Anyone is free to express their beliefs, no matter how extreme they may be. However, we must not overlook the victims.
Have you or anyone else connected with The Kerala Story received any official correspondence?
No. Someone in Kerala filed a First Information Report (FIR) against us, according to a tweet I saw. However, as of right now, we lack any necessary paperwork. When we receive a valid FIR, we shall investigate the allegation in accordance with the law of the land.