The Kerala Story is centred on the alleged radicalization and is a true story of three young girls from different parts of Kerala, who are gradually converted to Islam, after which they are forced to join ISIS, as terrorists made to marry Muslim boys and then sent into Islamic countries as human traffickers.

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 Kasargod, 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).

Asifa has a secret agenda to brainwash her staunch Hindu roommates and convert them to Islam. With the assistance of her male Muslim associates from outside, she ensures that the girls are radicalized and indoctrinated into the religion using hallucinogenic drugs.  Shalini becomes pregnant, and has no other alternative but to marry someone other than the man who impregnated her, and thus she embarks on a long journey to Syria via Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Lured by love and lopsided logic, the girls are trapped in a heinous game where they become fodder in a purported clash of cultures and civilisations. Director Sudipto Sen has opted for a subject that’s sensitive, controversial and complex and the treatment that has been meted out to the film makes it a tad difficult watch with several crucial disturbing scenes, where the femalkes are raped or sodomised and moments and incisive dialogues. 

Kudos to Vipul Amrutlal Shah for daring to come up with a film like this and Sudipto for handling a sensitive subject matter like this and strikes a challenging balance, and succeeds to handle it with ease. D.O.P Prasantanu Mohaptra has done an excellent job of capturing the scenes in Afghanistan and the border regions of Afghanistan-Pakistan.

At the outset, I will be failing in my duty, if I were not to state that Adah Sharma’s portrayal of Shalini (who is eventually renamed Fatima), is powerful, poignant and heartrending and emotionally shattering. Her perseverance and hard work in getting the Malayali accent right, is very evident on screen. While many of the actors, be it Yogita Bihani, Sonia Balani, or for that matter Siddhi Idnani who are rank newcomers, put in their best foot forward to bring their real stories to reel life, effectively.To sum up, more like a companion piece to The Kashmir Files, the film sets out to maintain a divisive tone and the gaze is emotionally extremely exploitative. Like the bigots in the film, it seems the makers are keen on converting the audience into hate mongers and expressing themselves in society


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