'The Kerala Story' film poster | Photo: YouTube
New Delhi, The producer of "The Kerala Story" Vipul Amrutlal Shah on Tuesday rejected allegations that the film is funded by the BJP, saying as filmmakers they have "nothing to do with any political party" and anything spoken about the film without watching it is "conjecture".
The Sudipto Sen directorial, which has kicked up a political storm in Kerala, claims to unearth the "truth" behind "thousands of innocent women" who were "systematically converted, radicalized & their lives destroyed".
The ruling CPI(M) in Kerala claimed that the film was "BJP sponsored" and part of the "Sangh Parivar agenda" to divide people and create animosity among them in the state.
In his reaction, Shah told PTI over phone, "We will choose not to respond to any political party. We are filmmakers and we have nothing to do with any political party stand. So, if CPI(M) feels that way without seeing the film, without having any kind of insight into the subject or the film of what we have done, it is their choice. I cannot respond to a political party and I choose not to."
Controversies are just opinions of the people who haven't seen the film, he added.
"Without any evidence... This is what they are feeling. So without seeing the film, everything is conjecture and their take on it. My truth doesn't change that this is about these three girls, an absolute true story," Shah said.
According to the latest description of the trailer, shared on production banner Sunshine Pictures' official YouTube page, "The Kerala Story" is "a compilation of the true stories of three young girls from different parts of Kerala... Thousands of innocent women have been systematically converted, radicalized & their lives destroyed..."
In November 2022, the makers unveiled the teaser which claimed "The Kerala Story" presents the "heartbreaking and gut-wrenching stories of 32,000 females in Kerala!"
Earlier in the day, CPI(M) state secretary M V Govindan alleged the film was an attempt of the BJP and RSS to poison the minds of the people.
On Monday, BJP state president K Surendran held a press conference in Kozhikode where he claimed that recruitment to the Islamic State (IS) terror outfit from Kerala could not be denied and that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was aware of the exact figures.
A day earlier, Vijayan slammed the makers of "The Kerala Story", saying they were taking up the Sangh Parivar propaganda of projecting the state as a centre of religious extremism by raising the issue of 'love jihad' -- a concept rejected by the courts, probe agencies and the home ministry.
Shah said the teaser talked about the issue in general whereas the trailer and the film specifically deals with the "true story of three girls". However, the filmmaker added they "stand by" the number of 32,000 women being subjected to religious conversion.
"We need to understand that when we came out with a teaser, we were talking about the issue in general. The film in specific deals with the story of three girls. So, the film is also a true story and every scene in the film is true, but it deals with three girls.
"However, we are not changing our stand. If we look at the issue, then the number of 32,000 is what we have stated and we are staying by it. But the film is not, so they're two different things," he added.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a plea seeking a stay on release of "The Kerala Story" on grounds that it's a "worst kind of hate speech" and an "audio-visual propaganda".
In another development, a public interest litigation (PIL) was moved in the Kerala High Court on Tuesday against certain statements in the teaser and trailer of the film and seeking that the court set aside the certificate for public display given to the movie by the censor board.
The high court, after hearing brief arguments, listed the matter for hearing on May 5, the day the Adah Sharma-starrer is scheduled to be released.