"The Kerala Story": Exploring Extremism, Religion, and Realities

Manipulated by religious extremists, she ultimately finds herself entangled in the way of terrorism and is sent to Syria as an ISIS operative.
"The Kerala Story": Exploring Extremism, Religion, and Realities
"The Kerala Story": Exploring Extremism, Religion, and RealitiesInside view
Swagata Borah

Main Akeli Nahi Hoon Iss Game Mein, Mere Jaisi Hazaron Ladkiyan Hain..Jo Apne Ghar Se Bhagkar Iss Registaan Mein Dafan Ho Chuki Hain,” a woman’s harrowing journey is depicted as she shares her heartbreaking story of being lured into extremism after her dreams of becoming a nurse were derailed.

Manipulated by religious extremists, she ultimately finds herself entangled in the way of terrorism and is sent to Syria as an ISIS operative. Later imprisoned in Afghanistan, she recounts the horrors she and her friends endured at the hands of religious xenophobes in the movie "The Kerala Story". Tragically, one of her friends took her own life, while another faced unimaginable brutality, repeatedly subjected to rape while unconscious.

As the narrative unfolds, questions arise about justice for these women. Will they find the retribution they deserve? Can the protagonist absolve herself from the crimes falsely attributed to her name? Is there any hope of returning to her homeland, India? And will her family ever find solace and happiness? The answers to these pressing queries lie within the gripping storyline of the movie, urging viewers to witness the unfolding drama firsthand.

Adah Sharma, as the main character has delivered a remarkable performance in which her relativity transcends her social media persona. From the character of Fatima to Shalini, she undergoes a brilliant transformation. From nailing the accent to mastering the body language, Sharma’s portrayal is nothing short of impeccable.

The actress flawlessly embodies the bruised and battered appearance, capturing every detail flawlessly.

One of the strengths of her character is how authentically she portrays a young girl who ventures out into the world, initially naive and innocent. Slowly, she becomes ensnared in the web of terrorism, a process that Sharma portrays with subtlety and power. Even in the intense interrogation scenes, her character maintains a spark of spunk and innocence, highlighting the fact that she was led astray without fully comprehending the consequences. Sharma skillfully portrays these nuances, bringing them to life on the screen.

Overall, Adah Sharma's performance is a testament to her talent and versatility as an actor. She effortlessly captures the journey of her character, from innocence to manipulation, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

Sonia Balani delivers an impressive performance that elicits strong emotions from the audience. In her role as the Muslim girl attempting to indoctrinate her roommates, she portrays a character devoid of any empathy or emotions, successfully evoking a sense of disdain in viewers. Through her skillful portrayal, she seamlessly integrates Islamic sermons into everyday conversations and disparages other religions and their deities, igniting a fiery response from the audience. Her seamless manipulation and persuasive speech make her an ideal antagonist, leaving a lasting impact on the audience. Her onscreen portrayal is truly commendable.

Yogita Bihani and Siddhi Idnani, although having limited screen time deliver commendable performances. Their characters play pivotal roles in the film's plot, despite not having extensive depth. Both actresses skillfully portray their characters and successfully depict the various shades within them, effortlessly bringing their roles to life.

While the remaining supporting cast had limited opportunities to showcase their acting skills, their contributions to the film should not be overlooked.

Although each and every character in the movie aced their dialogue delivery, the writing by Suryapal Singh, Sudipto Sen, and Vipul Amrutlal Shah in 'The Kerala Story' is a bit disappointing. While the story attempts to be thrilling, it falls short due to its flawed perspective. In spite of the fact that the film claims to be based on real-life incidents, the writer’s narrow focus on highlighting the negatives of one particular religion undermines the overall portrayal. It would have been more balanced and impactful if the writers had included Muslim characters who not only opposed the heinous crimes within their community but also displayed acts of goodness.

This would have provided a more nuanced perspective to the viewers, rather than perpetuating the misconception that all Muslims are inherently bad or possess a certain mindset. While there were Muslim characters shown supporting the victims' families and attending the funeral, their lack of dialogue expressing empathy or taking a stand against these criminal activities undermines their potential impact. By incorporating more diverse Muslim characters who actively opposed such crimes, the film could have portrayed a more realistic and inclusive representation.

The Kerala Story' serves as a valuable cautionary tale, particularly for young individuals venturing away from home for college. However, it would have been more appropriate for the writers to present a more balanced portrayal of the community involved, rather than depicting them solely as villains.

By incorporating a broader perspective, the film could have effectively conveyed the actual events while highlighting that not everyone within that community shares the same negative attributes. This approach would have provided a more comprehensive understanding of the ground reality and dispelled any notions of the film being a propaganda piece. Setting aside the political aspects, Adah Sharma delivers a fantastic performance, complemented by Sudipto Sen's skilled direction.

It is to be mentioned that ever since its release, the film has faced intense criticism for allegedly promoting hatred towards Muslims and perpetuating Islamophobia. Several critics argue that the narrative exacerbates religious tensions and contributes to a divisive atmosphere. The film's reception has sparked a nationwide debate on the responsibility of filmmakers in handling sensitive subjects and the potential impact on social harmony.

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