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Controversial film: “The Kerala Story”

the kerala story


Directed by

   Sudipto Sen

Written by

  • Suryapal Singh
  • Sudipto Sen
  • Vipul Amrutlal Shah

Produced by

  Vipul Amrutlal Shah


  • Adah Sharma
  • Yogita Bihani
  • Sonia Balani
  • Siddhi Idnani


Prasantanu Mohapatra

Edited by

Sanjay Sharma

Music by

  • Viresh Sreevalsa

  • Bishakh Jyoti



Sunshine Pictures

Release date

  • 5 May 2023

Running time

138 minutes





Box office

₹ 35.25 crore



“The Kerala Story,” a Hindi-language film directed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, has stirred controversy and heated debates since its release on May 5, 2023. The film claims to be based on a true story and centers around a group of women from Kerala who allegedly converted to Islam and joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). However, the film’s portrayal of thousands of women from Kerala being converted and recruited into ISIS has been widely criticized for lacking factual accuracy and promoting the love jihad conspiracy theory. Let’s delve into the Synopsis, the response, and the impact of this controversial film.



“The Kerala Story” follows the journey of Shalini Unnikrishnan, played by Adah Sharma, who adopts the name Fatima Ba after converting to Islam and joining ISIS. The film claims that she is one of the 32,000 girls from Hindu and Christian communities who have gone missing from Kerala and have been recruited by ISIS after converting to Islam. However, these figures are highly inaccurate and lack real evidence. The film seems to draw inspiration from the true story of four women from Kerala who joined ISIS in Afghanistan between 2016 and 2018.

Factual Accuracy:


The film’s claim of 32,000 girls being recruited by ISIS is based on mistranslations, misquotes, and misrepresentations of unrelated statistics. In reality, the number of individuals who joined ISIS from Kerala is much smaller, with official estimates ranging from 60 to 70 individuals between 2014 and 2018. The film exaggerates the scale of the issue and perpetuates a false narrative.

Controversy and Opposition:


“The Kerala Story” has faced strong opposition from political parties and critics. The Indian National Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have accused the film of spreading communal misinformation and promoting the agenda of the Sangh Parivar, a Hindu nationalist organization. They argue that the film perpetuates the love jihad conspiracy theory, which suggests that non-Muslim women are lured into marriage and forced to convert to Islam. A complaint was filed against the film, leading to an investigation by the Kerala Police.

Response and Reception:


Critical reception of the film has been largely negative. Reviewers have criticized the film for its poor storytelling, exaggerated claims, and lack of nuance in addressing the social complexities of Kerala. Adah Sharma’s performance has been praised, but overall, the film has been deemed more of a tutorial on radicalization than entertaining cinema.

Box Office Success:


Despite the controversy, “The Kerala Story” had a strong opening at the box office, grossing ₹8.03 crore in India on its first day. It ranked as the fifth highest opener in India for 2023.

Ban in West Bengal:


On May 9, 2023, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, announced a ban on “The Kerala Story” in the state. The decision was made to maintain peace and prevent potential incidents of violence or hate crimes. The film producer has expressed intentions to take legal action in response to the ban.




“The Kerala Story” has ignited a fierce debate surrounding its factual accuracy, portrayal of communal tensions, and alleged promotion of the love jihad conspiracy theory. While the film claims to be based on a real-life incident, its reliance on inaccurate statistics and sensationalized storytelling has drawn criticism from various quarters. As discussions around the film continue, it remains important to separate fact from fiction and promote a nuanced understanding of complex issues like radicalization and communal harmony.



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