15 May 2023 5:55 PM GMT
In a plea filed by the makers of the controversial movie 'The Kerala Story' against the alleged 'shadow ban' of the movie in the State of Tamil Nadu, the state of Tamil Nadu has filed a counter affidavit refuting the claims of the makers and stating that they have made deliberate false statements implying that Tamil Nadu has prevented the public exhibition of the film. As per the affidavit,...
In a plea filed by the makers of the controversial movie 'The Kerala Story' against the alleged 'shadow ban' of the movie in the State of Tamil Nadu, the state of Tamil Nadu has filed a counter affidavit refuting the claims of the makers and stating that they have made deliberate false statements implying that Tamil Nadu has prevented the public exhibition of the film.
As per the affidavit, the film in Hindi was released in 19 multiplexes in the state of Tamil Nadu on its release date, that is, May 5 2023. Additionally, there was no order banning the screening of the film in the State and the State has taken all steps to safeguard the freedom of speech and expression of the makers of the movie as guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. However, as per the affidavit, Multiplex owners themselves took the decision to stop screening the film from May 7 2023 in view of "the criticism received by it/ lack of well-known actors/poor performance/Poor audience response."
Submitting that the state exercises no control in the decisions of the multiplex owners and screening the film, the affidavit reiterates that the petitioners, under the garb of the petition, or trying to gain publicity for their film and misusing the process of the court.
The affidavit goes on to submit that–
"The state intelligence issued alerts to the superintendents of police in districts and commissioners of police in the cities for keeping a close vigil on the law and order situation in the state, and ensuring maintenance of the same in the wake of the scheduled release of the film."
Stating that the same was done to facilitate the smooth release of the film and to prevent any potential harm to the owners of the theatres in the multiplexes, the affidavit reiterates that it was only because the film was heavily criticised after it's release for spreading "anti-Muslim hate" that the screening was halted by the owners of the multiplexes on their own discretion.
Referring to the "demonstrations, agitation, and picketing" which was staged in 19 places by various Muslim organisations in the State on screening of the movie, the State has submitted that adequate police protection was provided by the state to screen the film despite the backlash.
The state has argued that the petitioners have moved with "malafide intentions" in an attempt to seek publicity and have made "false and sweeping allegations" for the same reason.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the States of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu in the matter. The petitioners had alleged that the exhibitors in the State of Tamil Nadu withdrew the film after the informal messaging by the State authorities. The State of Tamil Nadu was represented by Additional Advocate General Amit Anand Tiwari on the last hearing. The producer has also challenged the ban imposed by the West Bengal Government. The Court will consider the matter on May 17,
The movie has courted controversy over allegations that it is tarnishing the entire Muslim community and the Kerala state while portraying the story of women who were recruited to ISIS through deceit.
On May 5, a division bench of the Kerala High Court comprising Justice N. Nagaresh and Justice Sophy Thomas had refused to stay the exhibition of the film. The Court observed that the film only said that it was 'inspired by true events' and that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had certified the film for public viewing. The bench also watched the trailer of the film and opined that there was nothing offensive to any particular community in it. The bench also noted that none of the petitioners had watched the film and that the producers had added a disclaimer that the film was a fictionalised version of events. However, the High Court also recorded the submission of the producer that the teaser of the movie, which claimed that over 32,000 women from Kerala were recruited to ISIS, will be removed from their social media accounts.