‘The Kerala Story’ narrates the tales of three young girls from various regions of Kerala, with the primary focus on the story of Shalini, who is abducted and subsequently converted to Islam. Shalini is then radicalized. and compelled to join ISIS as a terrorist.
‘The Kerala Story’ is centered around the alleged radicalization and conversion of young Hindu women to Islam in Kerala, after which they are forced to join ISIS.
The film states that it’s a true story of three young girls from different parts of Kerala.
‘The Kerala Story’ begins in the interrogation room where Shalini (Adah Sharma) is revealing details of her horrific and tragic past and the reason why she is in a situation of crisis.
Her backstory revolves around four college students who have enrolled in a Nursing School in Kasargauda, Kerala.
The story is narrated from the perspective of Shalini, who shares a deep bond with her roommates Gitanjali (Siddhi Idnani), Nimah (Yogita Bihani), and Asifa (Sonia Balani).
Unbeknownst to others, Asifa has a secret agenda to expose and convert her roommates to Islam.
With the assistance of her male associates from outside, she ensures that the girls are radicalized and indoctrinated into the religion using hallucinogenic drugs.
After Shalini becomes pregnant, she is compelled to marry someone other than the man who impregnated her, and then embarks on a long journey to Syria via Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Adah Sharma’s portrayal of Shalini who eventually renamed Fatima, is powerful and emotionally stirring.
Her hard work in getting the Malayali accent right, is evident on screen.
While many of the actors, Yogita Bihani, Sonia Balani, and Siddhi Idnani are newcomers, they put their best foot forward to bring their stories to life.
Director Sudipto Sen has opted for a subject that’s both sensitive and complex and the treatment that has been meted out to the film makes it a difficult watch with several disturbing scenes, moments and dialogues.
In the movie, the director has successfully created moments that evoke a natural uneasiness among viewers.
While handling sensitive subject matters, it can be challenging to strike a balance, but Sudipto appears to handle it with ease.
Prasantanu Mohaptra has done an excellent job of capturing the scenes in Afghanistan and the border regions of Afghanistan-Pakistan.
However, the background score of the film falls short. It is overpowering and distracts from the narrative.
The hostel scenes featuring the girls are well executed, but there are also dull and uninteresting moments in the film, particularly when Asifa attempts to brainwash and radicalize Shalini.
It is important to exercise caution during the extremely disturbing rape scene in the ISIS slave camp.
At certain points, the film feels more like a tutorial of radicalization than entertainment for the audience.
It also goes to extremes to make its point, and that could be quite unsettling for audiences belonging to various communities in our country.
After watching ‘The Kerala Story,’ you may be left with several questions about the current state of the country.
This thought-provoking film is disturbing and surely manages to leave an impact. (Courtesy: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/)