"Big attack on freedom of expression...: Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit on 'The Kerala Story' ban in West Bengal
Mumbai, Maharashtra: Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit on Tuesday condemned the ban of 'The Kerala Story' movie by the West Bengal government and said called it a "big attack" on the freedom of expression.
This comes a day after the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal banned the film 'The Kerala Story' citing "maintenance of peace" and to avoid incidents of "hatred and violence" in the state.
Reacting sharply to the ban of the film, Pandit who is also the president of the Indian Film and Television Directors' Association told ANI, "I condemn the banning of the film The Kerala Story by the West Bengal government. It's a big attack on the freedom of expression of a filmmaker. It is sending the wrong signal to the entire country.
West Bengal became the first state to ban the film, which narrates the ordeal of three women who are trafficked to ISIS camps after being converted to Islam through marriage.
There's a continuing political outcry around the movie even as it has been made tax-free in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and now Uttar Pradesh, becoming the second state to make the move.
On the decision to ban the film, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "It is to avoid any incident of hatred and violence, and maintain peace in the state."
Also raking up the 'Kashmir Files', a film on the alleged genocide of Kashmiri Pandits, which ran to packed houses despite evoking protests from the Opposition, the Bengal CM said, "What was 'The Kashmir Files'? It was meant purely to humiliate a particular section of society. What is 'The Kerala Story'? It is a distorted story."
The Chief Minister directed the state chief secretary to remove the movie from all theatres where it is being screened.
Reacting to the ban, Vipul Amrutlal Shah, the producer of the film, said they will pursue legal options against the decision.
"If state government won't listen to us, we will explore legal avenues. However, whatever course we take will be based on legal advice," Shah told ANI on Monday.
Helmed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, the film evoked sharp opposition from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who called it "RSS propaganda".Congress MP from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor accused the makers of "misrepresenting" Kerala.
Campaigning for the BJP in poll-bound Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, weighed in on the controversy, accusing the Congress of standing with terrorists.
'The Kerala Story' stars Adah Sharma, Yogita Bihani, Siddhi Idnani and Sonia Balani in lead roles.
A massive controversy erupted around the film after its trailer claimed that 32,000 women from Kerala had gone missing and joined the terrorist group ISIS. However, in the face of protests, the contentious figure in the trailer was later withdrawn.