The Kerala Story

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The Kerala Story
File:The Kerala Story poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sudipto Sen
Produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Written by
  • Suryapal Singh
  • Sudipto Sen
  • Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Music by
  • Viresh Sreevalsa
  • Bishakh Jyoti
Cinematography Prasantanu Mohapatra
Edited by Sanjay Sharma
Sunshine Pictures[1]
Release date
  • 5 May 2023 (2023-05-05)
Running time
138 minutes[2]
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget Template:Estimation 15–20 crore (US $1.8–2.4 million)[3]
Box office Template:Estimation 242.63 crore (US$38 million)[4]

The Kerala Story is a 2023 Indian Hindi-language drama film directed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah.[1] It stars Adah Sharma, Yogita Bihani, Sonia Balani, and Siddhi Idnani. The plot follows a group of women from Kerala who are coerced into converting to Islam, and go on to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

It was theatrically released on 5 May 2023,[5] and became a commercial hit, becoming the second highest grossing Hindi film of 2023.


Shalini Unnikrishnan, a woman who converted to Islam, shares her harrowing journey of aspiring to become a nurse, only to be abducted from her home and coerced by extremist groups. She was eventually manipulated into joining ISIS and ended up imprisoned in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, a woman named Fathima Ba resides in a hideout together with her husband, Ishaq, who is associated with the Mujahedeen, and her newborn son. Fathima experiences instances of marital rape with Ishaq. She makes the decision to escape, volunteering to travel to Syria. However, her plans are disrupted when she is apprehended by UN peacekeeping forces while crossing the border through Turkey. In the custody of these officials, Fathima recounts her personal narrative.

Originally known as Shalini Unnikrishnan, Fathima was born into a Brahmin family in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. She enrolls in a nursing college in Kasargod, where she becomes acquainted with her roommates Geethanjali, Nimah Matthews, and Asfiya. Geethanjali's father holds atheist Communist beliefs, while Nimah follows the Catholic faith and Asfiya is Muslim. Asfiya introduces her friends to her cousins Ramiz and Khaliq. Through her influence, the group is introduced to Islamic customs such as the concept of Jahannam and the practice of wearing a hijab. Nimah expresses some reservations regarding Asfiya's teachings, while Shalini and Geethanjali are more receptive. Asfiya also orchestrates an eve-teasing incident in a public place with the help of her associates, portraying the event as a result of the victims' attire, thus influencing Shalini and Geethanjali to adopt headscarves.

During this period, a romantic relationship develops between Shalini and Ramiz, as well as between Geethanjali and Khaliq, leading to consensual sex. Shalini becomes pregnant, and Ramiz convinces her to convert to Islam, assuming the name Fathima Ba. She later receives news of Ramiz's death during a mission in which he volunteered as a Mujahedeen fighter. Influenced by a local cleric, Fathima is made to believe that her family will not accept her pregnancy before marriage and subsequent conversion. Consequently, she enters into a marriage with a stranger Ishaq, recommended by the cleric, unaware of his involvement in various national security offenses.

Meanwhile, Geethanjali begins to question the extent of influence they have experienced and confronts Khaliq, who responds by blackmailing her with explicit photographs. Presented with the choice of enduring humiliation or marrying him, Geethanjali dies by suicide. Fathima and Ishaq travel to Colombo under the pretense of a honeymoon, although their true intention is to proceed to Afghanistan. During their time in Colombo, Nimah attempts to contact Fathima, urging her to return. However, Fathima refuses, believing it to be too late to change her situation.

Upon arriving in Afghanistan, Fathima realizes that the reality of her surroundings significantly differs from what she had been led to expect. In the present day, Fathima informs the officials that she had intentionally defected by providing them with her location, expressing a desire to be reunited with her son. The officials inform her that there is insufficient evidence to corroborate her account, and she remains incarcerated.


Production and release[edit]

The film was produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, who is also the creative director of the film.[1] It was released in theatres on 5 May 2023.[6] The digital streaming rights of the film was purchased by ZEE5.[7] Prior to its domestic release, the film went through CBFC scrutiny and received an A (adults only) classification following 10 modifications.[8]


In Kerala, both the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Indian National Congress, the only two parties to have governed the state since Independence, have objected to the film for spreading "communal misinformation" in tune with the agenda of the Sangh Parivar.[9][10][11] In Tamil Nadu, protests were held by Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) and multiple Muslim political organizations.[12]

The film has attracted public protests in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.[13][14] The film fared poorly in Tamil Nadu, apparently forcing the Tamil Nadu Multiplex Association to stop further screenings; however, the filmmakers dispute the claims and allege political censorship.[12] The film had a limited release in Kerala with the expectation that the theatres running it will attract good collections but audience figures were very poor leading to multiplexes in Kerala such as PVR and Cinepolis withdrawing screenings.[14]

Bans and Litigation[edit]

On the eve of release, several petitions were filed at the Madras High Court, Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court of India, calling for a ban on grounds of promoting communal disharmony.[15] The petitions were either declined to be heard or dismissed by the courts;[16] however, the film-makers were asked to remove all promotional materials, including the teaser, that claimed thirty two thousand girls to have converted to Islam and joined ISIS in real life.[17]

On 8 May, the Government of West Bengal banned the movie, characterizing the film as "hate speech", and citing adverse intelligence reports that reported increased communal tensions in the audience.[18] The filmmakers challenged the decision in the Supreme Court and the ban was stayed.[19] However, the filmmakers had to accept the addition of two disclaimers — that the figures in the film were inauthentic, and the film was a "fictionalized" portrayal of real-life events.[20]

Box office[edit]

On its opening day, the film grossed ₹8.03 crore in India,[21] making it the fifth highest opener in India for 2023.[22] As of 21 May 2023, the film has grossed 198.97 crore (US$31 million) in India and 5.76 crore (US$890,000) overseas for a worldwide gross collection of 242.63 crore (US$38 million), becoming the second-highest grossing Hindi film of 2023.[23] The film performed well in northern India but only saw mediocre to poor response in the south.[14]


1."Pagal Parindey"Ozil DalalSunidhi Chauhan, Bishakh Jyoti2:04
2."Ambo Ambambo"Viresh SreevalsaAthul Narukara1:52
3."Athira Ravil"Viresh SreevalsaK. S. Chithra2:07
4."Tu Mila"Ozil DalalK. S. Chithra2:07

Wikipedia censorship and bias[edit]

The very negative wikipedia article on The Kerala Story was, unsurprisingly, written by Wikipedia's anti-Hindu cabal (and "protected" from editors who viewed the film favorably).

Articles on the film director, and on his other films, were promptly deleted:

See also[edit]


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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "'The Kerala Story', starring Adah Sharma, gets release date" [archive]. The Hindu. PTI. 2023-04-24. ISSN 0971-751X [archive]. Archived [archive] from the original on 26 April 2023. Retrieved 2023-04-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Change City" [archive]. Archived [archive] from the original on 8 January 2023. Retrieved 2023-05-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "'Will rock box office': The Kerala Story destined to earn Rs 100 crore despite Bengal ban" [archive]. Business Today (in हिन्दी). 10 May 2023. Retrieved 2023-05-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Bollywood Top Grossers Worldwide 2023" [archive]. Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 26 January 2023.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Nishad, Sneha Singh (26 April 2023). "'The Kerala Story' trailer out: Adah Sharma headlines a hard-hitting, thought-provoking story" [archive]. Mid-Day. Archived [archive] from the original on 26 April 2023. Retrieved 27 April 2023.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Controversial film The Kerala Story to be released on May 5, trailer out" [archive]. The News Minute. 2023-04-26. Archived [archive] from the original on 26 April 2023. Retrieved 2023-04-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Kerala Story OTT Rights Bought By This Leading Platform, Tentative Release Date Out" [archive]. English Jagran. 2023-05-08. Retrieved 2023-05-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Censor Board gives The Kerala Story 'A' certificate, removes 10 scenes, including interview with ex-CM" [archive]. India Today. Retrieved 2 May 2023.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named :1
  10. "'The Kerala Story' in the dock" [archive]. Deccan Herald. 2022-11-09. Archived [archive] from the original on 10 November 2022. Retrieved 10 November 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Cong, DYFI, IUML youth wing demand ban on screening of 'The Kerala Story'" [archive]. The Indian Express. 2023-04-28. Archived [archive] from the original on 29 April 2023. Retrieved 2023-04-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named :8
  13. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named :9
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Sasikumar, Meenakshy (8 May 2023). "Why Is 'The Kerala Story' Facing Pushback in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, & West Bengal?" [archive]. TheQuint. Retrieved 2023-05-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. ""There are umpteen movies depicting Hindu sanyasis as rapists": Kerala High Court refuses to stay release of The Kerala Story" [archive]. 5 May 2023.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Kerala High Court refuses to stay screening of 'The Kerala Story'" [archive]. The Indian Express. 2023-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named :10
  18. Team, N. L. (2023-05-17). "'Contains hate speech, manipulated facts': Bengal govt defends ban on Kerala Story" [archive]. Newslaundry. Retrieved 2023-05-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Supreme Court stays West Bengal govt order banning film 'The Kerala Story'" [archive]. The Indian Express. 2023-05-18. Retrieved 2023-05-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Supreme Court stays West Bengal govt order banning film 'The Kerala Story'" [archive]. The Indian Express. 2023-05-18. Retrieved 2023-05-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Tuteja, Joginder (6 May 2023). "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Box Office: Survives steep competition from Bollywood's The Kerala Story on Day 1" [archive]. Bollywood Hungama. Archived [archive] from the original on 6 May 2023. Retrieved 6 May 2023.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Entertainment Desk (6 May 2023). "The Kerala Story box office collection Day 1: Sudipto Sen's film gets better opening than Selfiee, Shehzada, Kashmir Files; earns Rs 8.03 cr" [archive]. The Indian Express. Archived [archive] from the original on 6 May 2023. Retrieved 6 May 2023.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "The Kerala Story box office collection Day 4: Sudipto Sen's film does better than Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, nears Rs 50 crore mark" [archive]. The Indian Express. 2023-05-09. Retrieved 2023-05-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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