The Kerala Story has reportedly crossed £15 million mark at the box office in India.
By: Mohnish Singh
The Kerala Story producer Vipul Shah on Wednesday announced an initiative to help rehabilitate 300 alleged victims of religious conversion.
The Kerala Story, a film on conversion that has polarised the political discourse in the country leading to bans in some states and a tax-free status in others, hit the screens on May 5. It is directed by Sudipto Sen and stars Adah Sharma in the lead.
Shah said they made the movie with the goal to support the victims of conversion and their initiative ‘Protect The Daughters’ is a step in the same direction.
“The main reason for us to make The Kerala Story, why Sudipto came forward with the story and made the film, is to help these girls. We’re going to start by helping rehabilitate 300 girls in the ashram. We, Sunshine Pictures and the team of ‘The Kerala Story’, would like to start by donating Rs 51 lakh,” the producer told reporters at a press conference here.
The team of The Kerala Story was joined on stage by 26 alleged victims of conversion.
“All these girls are very brave, face a lot of dangers daily. Despite those dangers, they’ve come here to speak up. Today, we’re beginning an initiative called ‘Protect The Daughters’, an ashram, which will be a safe space for victims like them,” Shah added.
On accusations of targeting a particular community through “The Kerala Story”, director Sen said the team did not want to do a “balancing act”.
“This is not about any religion. Not Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. It is about three girls who represent the sufferings of thousands of girls. It was not about showing a few Hindus or Muslims in a good light. Each and every word and visual we have spoken or shown, it is correct. How far it is correct, you can cross question with them (alleged victims on stage),” he added.
Shah said it would be a disservice to focus on “iconography” of the film rather than pay attention to the pain the alleged victims have endured over the years.
The producer also urged people to turn out to watch the film in huge numbers. The Kerala Story has reportedly crossed £15 million mark at the box office.
“Approximately 1 to 1.15 crore people have watched the movie in the last 11 days. But the population of our country is 140 crore and one crore is a very small number of that population. I feel every citizen should watch this film with their family.
“I also believe that 5-6 crore people would have seen the film through pirated versions. I also request them that even if you have seen the pirated version, you should become the voice of these girls and watch this film (in theatres). These girls are not just from Kerala, this is happening across the country. If we don’t react now then it’ll be too late. Which is why it is our responsibility that we watch this film and become the voice of these girls,” Shah said.
Sharma praised the women for coming forward with their stories.
“These girls deserve a huge round of applause that they’ve come here despite knowing that they’ll be judged,” she said.
Shruti, who introduced herself as a lifetime worker at a Kerala-based ashram, claimed that she was “a victim of ideological conversion”.
“Many people have been brainwashed. We de-brainwash them and bring them back to the right path. We’ve brought back more than 7,000 people to Sanatana Dharma. The majority were misguided towards Islamic, anti-national, and anti-human ideologies. The majority were love trapped in jihad. Our duty is toward the entire world, not just Kerala,” she claimed.