The Supreme Court will on Friday hear a plea by the producers of controversial multilingual film ‘The Kerala Story’ against the West Bengal government’s ban on screening of the film after the makers said they are “losing money every day”. Senior advocate Harish Salve, while mentioning the matter for urgent listing before a bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha, said the petition challenges the ban by the West Bengal government and the “de-facto” ban in Tamil Nadu.
According to news agency PTI, the SC bench said it had on Tuesday posted for May 15 a separate plea against the Kerala High Court order refusing to stay the release of the film and the fresh plea would also be heard on that day. However, the bench agreed to list the plea for hearing on May 12 after Salve said, “We are losing money everyday.”
‘The Kerala Story’ starring Adah Sharma was released in cinemas on May 5. Directed by Sudipto Sen, the film depicts that women from Kerala are allegedly forced to convert to Islam and then allegedly recruited by the terror group Islamic State(IS).
On May 4, the Supreme Court refused to entertain for a third time a plea challenging the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) certification granted to the film, saying courts must be very careful while staying exhibition of films. It was observed that producers have invested money in the film and actors have dedicated their labour, and it is for the market to decide if the film is not up to the mark.
On May 8, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered an immediate ban on the screening of the film in the state to avoid “any incident of hatred and violence”, a senior state government official said, as per PTI.
ALSO READ | Cyclone Mocha Intensifies Into Very Severe Cyclonic Storm, 8 NDRF Teams Deployed In Bengal
Kerala HC Refused To Stay Release Of ‘The Kerala Story’, Film Producers Withdraw Statement That “32,000 Women” Converted
The Kerala High Court on May 5 refused to stay the release of the film and said the trailer does not contain anything offensive to any particular community as a whole. It noted the producers’ submission that they do not intend to retain an “offending teaser” which contained a statement that “32,000 women” from Kerala were converted and joined a terrorist organisation.
The Kerala HC said the CBFC has examined the film and found it suitable for public exhibition.
The high court had also noted that the producers have published a disclaimer along with the film which specifically says it is fictionalized and a dramatized version of events and that the film doesn’t claim accuracy or factuality of historical events.
“In view of the disclaimer also, we are not inclined to pass an interim order restraining the respondents from exhibiting the film as such. In view of the above and taking into consideration the statement made by the producer that the producer does not intend to retain the offending teaser in their social media handles, no further orders are necessary in this petition at this stage,” the high court said while hearing a batch of petitions which sought to set aside the certificate for public display given to the film by the Censor Board among other pleas including to ban it, as quoted by PTI.
The petitions before the high court contending that the film “falsely portrayed” certain facts which had resulted in “insulting” the people of Kerala, and sought a stay on the film’s release.