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Instead of shooting the messenger, root out this menace: Vipul Amrutlal Shah


Published on: May 2, 2023 | Updated on: May 3, 2023

A section of the public and some political parties allege that the movie is part of the agenda of the Sangh Parivar. (Photo: Twitter)

Producer/director Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s The Kerala Story, which claims that thousands of women in the State are being converted to Islam and recruited by the ISIS, has whipped up a controversy, with a section of the public and some political parties alleging that it is part of the agenda of the Sangh Parivar. As the movie gears to hit theatres on May 5, here is Vipul Shah in conversation with DC:

You are not known for making films of a sensitive nature like The Kerala Story. Why this change of direction?

This is like going back to my theatre days. I am a product of theatre and have done a lot of experimental plays in Prithvi Theatre. I’ve done a lot of hard-hitting plays on very intense subjects. This is just re-visiting my old self. Last year I did a show called Human that was also an intense subject. Intense subjects are not new to me. This is such an important subject that I felt compelled to make this film. I am proud and happy to be have been able to make such an important film.

What exactly is the story?

It is a true story about three girls who are manipulated into converting to Islam, and the disastrous consequences of that. It started with the story of one girl who was languishing in an Afghan jail, and was rescued with the help of the United Nations. We learned more and more about the subject, and included the story of two more girls, but there are hundreds and thousands of such examples. 

Did everything you depict in the film actually happen to these girls?

Some sequences didn’t happen in their individual lives, but they did happen in someone else’s life. We have incorporated these incidents into the story. We say at the start that the film is inspired by many true stories. We are not going to cheat people. Not a single line can be proven to be a lie.

Your reaction to comments from politicians that this story is a bundle of lies?

Let me make it very clear — not even one scene in this film is fiction. Every single scene has happened in someone’s life. Every political party has an ideology. If what we do doesn’t fit into that ideology, tough questions will be asked. They will try to discredit us, and try to make it seem as if we are opportunistic. But that doesn’t make a difference to us.

Is it an amalgamation of the Love-Jihad and being lured into terrorism?

Love-Jihad has become a political term. It trivialises the truth/importance of the subject. We are talking about a human tragedy that is happening right now in Kerala where girls are manipulated and taken to Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen. Either they are made into sex slaves or turned into suicide bombers. This is happening even as we speak. It is a very dangerous situation. It’s much more than Love-Jihad.

Politicians are claiming that you are supporting the BJP and have called for a ban of the film.

Congress leaders in Kerala have said the film should be banned. Some individuals and Muslim clerics have also opposed the release of our film. Attempts to discredit us are not important to us. Whose side are these leaders on? Are they on the side of these innocent girls whose lives are being destroyed, or they are on the side of the perpetrators? We say, ‘If you care for Kerala, please apprehend the perpetrators yourself, and put them behind bars.’

The title ‘Kerala Story’ has also been criticised, and the allegation is that we are trying to defame the State. But we have no such intentions. Kerala is a beautiful place. The film Shootout at Lokhandwala was about some daylight crimes, but that didn’t mean Mumbai was defamed. If I were to make a film on Dawood Ibrahim, I would have Mumbai as the backdrop. In the same way, I have placed this story in Kerala. If some people care so much for their State, why don’t they root out this menace, instead of shooting the messenger!

The perception is that this film favours the ruling party at the Centre. With elections approaching, is the timing of the release significant?


I believe that in a democracy, everybody is allowed to have an opinion. If somebody finds a problem with my film, I have no objection, it is their fundamental right to raise it. But let them bring evidence and facts to the table. I too will bring mine, and we can have a good intelligent debate.

Does the film offend anyone’s religious sentiments?

No, I don’t think so. We always say, ‘Let’s not bring terrorism into religion.’ But it has become convenient for them to cite religion and terrorism to defame our film.