Bollywood film ‘The Kerala Story’ continues to be screened in Cineworld, Birmingham despite protest

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An activist disrupted a screening of The Kerala Story in Cineworld, Broad Street, Birmingham

Screenings of a controversial Bollywood film have continued in Birmingham after a protestor disrupted one of the shows.

A Kashmiri activist Shakeel Afsar disrupted a screening of the movie The Kerala Story in Cineworld in Broad Street, Birmingham on Friday (May 20) evening, according to a tweet by British Muslim news site 5Pillarsuk.com.

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The video of the incident was posted by 5Pillarsuk.com. The protestor can be heard yelling: “This is lies, we will not accept this kind of propaganda.” Editor of 5Pillars Roshan Muhammed Salih reviewed the film, which he calls “anti-Islam, anti-Muslim”.

He writes: “It is clearly designed to provoke hatred of Islam and Muslims and the fact that it’s being shown in areas of the UK with high Muslim populations (London, Luton, Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester etc) is a total provocation.” There are several screenings scheduled for The Kerala Story in Birmingham and other parts of the country.

A Cineworld spokesperson said: “A customer incident at Cineworld Birmingham on Broad Street caused brief disruption to a screening of Kerala Story. Cineworld staff dealt with the incident swiftly and the screening was resumed with minimal delay.”

What is The Kerala Story about?

The Kerala Story - directed by Supidto Sen, starring Adah Sharma - tells the fictional story of women from the southern state of Kerala who are forced to convert to Islam and end up joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The film focusses on the controversial theory of “love jihad”.

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Bollywood film producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah speaks during a press conference of his film ‘The Kerala Story’ in Mumbai on May 17, 2023.  (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images)Bollywood film producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah speaks during a press conference of his film ‘The Kerala Story’ in Mumbai on May 17, 2023.  (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Bollywood film producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah speaks during a press conference of his film ‘The Kerala Story’ in Mumbai on May 17, 2023. (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

The film claims that 32,000 women from Kerala turned to Islam and joined the terrorist group. The claim has been debunked by several experts including fact checking Indian news site Alt News. A 2012 India Today report said that 2,667 young women converted to Islam in Kerala between 2006 to 2012. However, the report didn’t mention if the women joined the ISIS. There was no report about forced conversions either.

How have people reacted to The Kerala Story?

The film has received applause and criticism in India with two states making it free to watch on the big screen. However, some states have banned the film from screening at all.

In the UK, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has given it a 18 certificate since it contains sexual violence, use of drugs, referrence to suicide and other serious issues.

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