The ruling CPI(M) and opposition Congress in Kerala on Friday lashed out against the controversial upcoming movie 'The Kerala Story', saying freedom of expression was not a licence to spew venom in society, and the film was an attempt to destroy the communal harmony of the state.
'The Kerala Story', written and directed by Sudipto Sen, is portrayed as "unearthing" the events behind "approximately 32,000 women" allegedly going missing in the southern state. The film falsely claims they converted, got radicalised and were deployed in terror missions in India and the world.
In a strongly-worded Facebook post, Culture and Youth Affairs minister Saji Cheriyan said the movie was part of the Sangh Parivar propaganda to implement "their tried-and-tested method of creating unrest" among the communities by spewing venom in society.
"Kerala is a state which is known for communal harmony... This movie could be seen as an attempt by the Sangh Parivar to destroy the secular fabric of the state... This is a conspiracy to divide and create unrest in society," Cheriyan said.
The Congress party urged the government not to give permission to screen the controversial movie as it aimed to create "communal divisions in society through false claims".
Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan rejected the claims of the movie makers and said it was clear that the intention of the upcoming movie was to tarnish the image of the state at the international level.
"Permission should not be given to screen the film which falsely claims that 32,000 women in Kerala have been converted into Islam and became members of ISIS," the Congress leader said.
'The Kerala Story', starring Adah Sharma, is set to be released in cinemas on May 5.
Cheriyan said freedom of expression was not a licence to spew venom in society. "We will consider legal action against such fake propaganda," he added.
Satheesan also said this was not an issue of freedom of expression but part of an attempt to implement the Sangh Parivar agenda of creating divisions in the society by casting aspersions on minority groups.
"No one should think that Kerala can be divided by spewing the poison of communalism," he said, adding that the state would stand united -- as has been its tradition -- against this "deliberate move to foster religious rivalry".
The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of the ruling CPI(M), also lashed out against the film and said its trailer itself hurt religious sentiments.
The DYFI in a Facebook post alleged that the medium of cinema was being misused by the makers of the movie to create communal divisions in society and to tarnish the image of the state.
The Left outfit also sought stern action against the film.
In a press note issued earlier this week, the filmmakers announced the release date with a poster that shows a burqa-clad woman with a tagline "Uncovering the truth that was kept hidden." The film's writer-director Sudipto Sen's earlier movies are 'Aasma', 'Lucknow Times' and 'The Last Monk'.
'The Kerala Story' is backed by Sunshine Pictures Private Limited, founded by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, who serves as the producer, creative director and co-writer on the film.