Condemning the ban on ”The Kerala Story”, the Producers Guild of India on Tuesday said no one other than the Central Board of Film Certification has the right to decide whether or not a film should be released.
The guild issued a statement a day after the West Bengal government ordered an immediate ban on the screening of the controversial film in the state to avoid ”any incident of hatred and violence”.
Multiplexes across Tamil Nadu have also cancelled screenings of the controversial film from Sunday, citing law and order issues and poor public response.
”The Producers Guild of India is distressed by, and would like to record its strong objection to, state-enforced bans on ‘The Kerala Story’.
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”As emphasised by us on several occasions in the past, film releases are regulated by CBFC and any film that complies with this statutory requirement should face no further hurdles in having the paying public decide on its fate. Of course, the audience can choose to watch or ignore any film but that is a choice that should be theirs to make, not one that is imposed on them by any party other than CBFC,” the guild said in a statement.
Directed by Sudipto Sen, ”The Kerala Story” depicts how women from Kerala were forced to convert to Islam and recruited by the terror group Islamic State (IS). The film, which was released on May 5, has kicked up a political storm.
On the day of the film’s release, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had credited the movie for bringing out terror conspiracies and used it to attack the Congress during an election rally in poll-bound Karnataka.
The guild, currently headed by Shibasish Sarkar which has around 150 production banners as members, also urged authorities to take note of this trend of films being ”denied their right” to smooth exhibition across the country.
”We call upon all the relevant authorities to urgently address this all-too-frequent phenomenon of films being denied their right to unfettered, nation-wide exhibition despite having duly complied with regulatory requirements,” it added.
On Tuesday morning, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the government will make ”The Kerala Story” tax-free in the state. Last week, the Madhya Pradesh government gave tax-free status to the film.
”The Kerala Story”, starring Adah Sharma, was released in cinemas on Friday and was initially portrayed as ”unearthing” the events behind ”approximately 32,000 women” allegedly missing from Kerala. It is directed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s Sunshine Pictures.
According to the CPI(M) and the Congress in Kerala, the film falsely claims that 32,000 women got converted and radicalised and were deployed in terror missions in India and the world. The filmmakers later changed the figure in the film’s trailer.
The Supreme Court will hear on May 15 a plea against the Kerala High Court order refusing to stay the release of the film ”The Kerala Story”.