THE BACKDROP OF THE EVENT
Thereafter, an informal blanket ban was imposed by the authorities of Tamil Nadu on the screening of the film in the state. Finally, the issue that led to the current chaos is the imposition of a similar ban by the state of West Bengal.
The concerned parties have now approached the Supreme Court for the resolution of the matter, here it is noteworthy that the Kerala high court had given a clean chit to the movie when the matter was brought before the high court for ordering a stay of the screening of the film.
THE BEGINNING OF THE CONTROVERSY
In the recent past, we have witnessed some movies which were unconventional in terms of their subject matter and brutally honest depiction of the events concerned. The Kashmir files are an illustration of how the public discourse is marching towards a more candid exchange of facts and events that have long been treated as an elephant in the room.
Following suit, the makers of the Kerala story made an audacious attempt to let the genie out of the bottle about how people from Kerala have been recruited by terrorist outfits particularly how the women are subjugated for nefarious endeavors.
However, the teaser posted by the creators claimed that 32,000 women from Kerala were converted and recruited by ISIS. The claim so made was an untenable one as there was no data to back the same. Accordingly, the creators have now taken down the post and have amended their statement by bringing the claim down to 3 from 32,000.
THE LEGAL JOURNEY SO FAR
The creators of the movie were first dragged to court by the people to stay against the screening of the movie. The high court examined the relevant claims and upon thorough assessment found that there was cause of action against the movie, the court even watched the trailer and stated that there is nothing contemptuous or prejudicial against any community in the trailer.
Accordingly, the makers were screening the film. Despite the clearance from the high authorities in Tamil Nadu and the state of West Bengal went on to ban the movie, informally and formally. The creators have now moved to the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the ban so imposed by the state of West Bengal as well as seeking relief for the proper screening of the movie in southern states to which the informal ban in Tamil Nādu is an impediment that needs to be resolved.
A bench comprising CJI Chandrachur and Justice PS Narasimha has been constituted to oversee the matter. The first contention of the movie creators is whether states have the authority to ban a movie that has been certified by the central board of film certification, the apex regulatory authority which determines the appropriateness of the films from several standpoints.
The second contention raised by the makers is that the move by the state government is violative of their fundamental rights guaranteed under article 19(1)(a) of the constitution which confers on the citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression.
The last major contention is about clause 1 of the West Bengal cinemas regulation act of 1954, which bestows upon the state government arbitrary powers regarding the regulation of films. The makers have appointed senior advocate harish salve as their counsel, who has already pleaded before the court to hasten the proceedings given the nature of the case as the makers are bleeding money with every passing day.
THE WAY FORWARD
Cinema has a prominent role in bringing the reality of society out in the open so that a path can be paved for a bright future. In doing so, sometimes the makers take up controversial issues to work on and end up making such a distorted piece of work that it worsens the status quo by making a wrong picture in the minds of people.
Particularly vulnerable are those who are neither well-versed with the issue nor have adequate resources or capacity to understand the issue neutrally. The role of the cinema is supposed to widen the perspectives of people and provide many people with knowledge of issues that they were not aware of rather than disseminating deceptive compositions to make pecuniary gains.
Hence it can be understood from this episode that though potentially riotous issues must be talked about with the help of cinema to strengthen the spirit of civil society and free public discourse at the same time such issues must not be abused to create revenue and sensation by furthering fraudulent propaganda.