The Kerala Story, Movie Review

One difference with this movie ‘The Kerala Story’ is, one sees crowds in the theatres. I’m pointing to this now, but soon many will notice, and hopefully complain, that the movie booking apps in certain circumstances behave like a fixed-cricket match. While I was buying the ticket for this movie on the app at noon for a 12:30 show, the app showed an empty theatre. I wondered if I was the only one attending.

But no. There was a sizable crowd to watch The Kerala Story. This experience was contrary to what happened during the Movie Pathaan, where, even though all the seats looked booked online, the auditorium was nearly vacant when I arrived. I’ve heard that Shah Rukh’s upcoming movie Jawaan’s release has been postponed. I believe he needs to give the audience time to recover from the trauma caused by Pathaan’s deceptive selling tactics.

Anyway, back to The Kerala Story.

The Kerala Story portrays the international Islamic plan of employing naive Hindu girls as sexual captives. Islamic clerics teach young Muslim males to control Hindu women, extort them to convert to Islam, and whisk them away on a “vacation” where they are kept prisoner to fulfill the sexual desires of jihadist fighters.

Those who need validation on the idea that Muslims are worse and Hindus are great will find this movie satisfying.

Depth, substance and balance are a necessity for any good storytelling. The movie misses out on all the mentioned three fronts, and openly opts for a one-sided approach. Although international jihad is indeed an increasing threat and India is at a critical juncture, adopting a defeatist attitude, as portrayed in the movie, is a feeble response.

I belong to the North of India and there are talks about Love-Jihad. Yes, Love-Jihad exists. But one should know why it exists. In North India, a Hindu wedding of a girl drives the father and the family into penury. The father even takes huge loans to marry off his daughters and remains in perpetual debt till death. Under these circumstances, if some Hindu families can get one daughter married to a Muslim and affordable expenditure, then what is the problem?

The Uttar Pradesh Government has come out with a bill on Love-Jihad – or a Law against forcible conversion. But I hear of no news of Dowry Laws or any promotion of reasonably priced marriages. Mr. Modi is seen on camera sweeping the streets for his “Clean India” campaign. Similarly, the Chief Minister of U.P., should be visibly advocating for modest weddings, and a “clean-custom” campaign.

If Hindu Girls are leaving the religion and marrying ‘outside en masse’ then, in this case, the Hindus have a problem with their own religion rather than some other religion being a problem.

Conversions via Love Jihad could be minuscule. But since it’s a live-wire political issue, the crescendo is more than credible.

Going back to southern India and the film The Kerala Story, what I mentioned above can also be true down south too. There may be social, societal and financial problems arising out of having marriageable girls in Hindu families. I suppose the same problem applies to Indian Hindus throughout India.

Hindus have a problem with the girls’ marriage. Dowry is a problem. So, Hindus (and the government) need to attend to and reform social and societal issues, rather than pointing fingers elsewhere.

The Kerala Story is an uninteresting and outdated experience. When the scene moves to Syria, they should have shown some action. You expect to see terrible things in bad-land, so show me something truly awful. Instead, they show a beheading and a hand-cutting, which you can easily find on the Internet. And the protagonist, Adah Sharma, is always craving for a mobile phone.

The movie ends abruptly. One second I was looking at visuals and the next I had to transition to reading text on big screen. The movie makers had a chance to show the subject in video and sound, but they didn’t do it well, so writing words on the big screen won’t be enough to make up for it.

Creators should show both sides of a story. If there are vulnerabilities exploited, how did those vulnerabilities appear in the first place?