There is much ballyhoo in the media about the director’s claim of 32,000 cases of forced/strategic conversion of Hindus and Christians into Islam. ‘It is mere propaganda’, ‘the alleged crime is not of the magnitude that it is portrayed in the film’, ‘why was it released just before elections’ and what not!
Fence sitters: whether the count is 3200, 320, or 3, it is time to spread awareness about what is happening not only in Kerala but in other parts of the world too. Each case will have social and psychological consequences not only for an individual but also for every society, nation, and world in the years to come. Irrespective of the number, any kind of brainwashing for a religious conversion should be strongly criticized. Open conversation about such issues is crucial. I would certainly consider this movie seminal on the issue of forced conversion in the name of love jihad. My only critique is that it shouldn’t have taken this long for mainstream media to finally depict this issue.
The movie touches upon the main theme- ideological brainwashing and conversions. It also deals with some parallel sub-themes like narcotics nexus, international terrorist organization ISIS activities, communist apathy towards religion and last but most important, ignorance about the meaning of dharmic ethos among Hindu society.
As the storyline goes, four college freshers happen to share a room in a nursing college in Kerala. Nimah (a Christian), Asifa (a Muslim), Geetanjali, and the film’s main character Shalini (the latter two are Hindus). The non-Muslim girls are naïve and impressionable. Gradually and strategically, Asifa, who is part of a nexus that converts and radicalizes Indian youth to Islam, begins to influence the girls to fall for Islam and make atrocious decisions that ruin their lives. Every now and then, Asifa prods and questions the two Hindu girls about Hindu concepts of God, doing her best to denigrate the religion and make them question their own faith. Shalini and Geetanjali are soon convinced to clad themselves in a hijab because they feel much safer while doing so. In the pretext of love, the naive women are drugged, impregnated, and eventually, one of them is sent to Syria to serve as a sex slave.
It is ironic that India’s most literate state has become one of the most gullible and naïve as far as its youth is concerned. ‘The Kerala Story’ is a powerful movie and an extremely significant one in today’s day, and I encourage every Hindu family in the world to watch it. It makes you realize how ignorant and passive we Hindus are about the nitty-gritty of our own Dharma and how important it is for parents to instill dharmic values in their children. While it is true that Sanatana Dharma gives each the liberty to explore one’s dharmic journey any way they prefer, it is also important to foster a deep understanding and appreciation of our rich Indic heritage and tradition. Liberalism and freedom do not equate to staying ignorant about our cultural and spiritual heritage.
Director Sudipto Sen, who has co-written the film with Suryapal Singh and Vipul Amrutlal Shah, have crafted the story purposefully to be as simple and direct as possible, hitting hard to the core for any sensible mind. Most of the characters speak Hindi in an adorable Malayali accent, and at times the dialogue seems to be written with the purpose of sharing information with the audience in a straightforward manner rather than portraying a natural conversation among the characters. But I believe that this is done strategically to achieve the directors’ goals. The movie has much less drama than any Bollywood creation, instead giving the feel of a soulful documentary at times. While short, it is an engaging watch.
I appreciated that the film didn't sensationalize the topic. I am convinced that it is imperative for the government to ensure an immediate, thorough investigation of the missing women in Kerala at the state and central levels. Mainstream media also needs to do its part in more serious investigative journalism at a deeper level.
It goes without saying, that not every Muslim individual is a fanatic -- and it is not the intention of the movie to convey any such Islamophobic message. Furthermore, a word of warning: many graphic scenes and violence might be triggering for youth below 16 to view, but it is a must watch for adults. A few included clips of the real victims in the end do not add any more authenticity to the movie but a little more digging on YouTube unfolds umpteen cases to prove that what the movie shows is just the tip of the iceberg.
This movie is worth watching, especially for girls. I encourage all young women to watch this movie before beginning their campus education in university or college worldwide.
Image source: Gulte
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