The National Film Institute in Pune hosted a screening of the film, ‘The Kerala Story’ on May 20. However, a section of the students protested against the screening and created a ruckus at the campus. The screening was interrupted by raising slogans against the makers Sudipto Sen and Vipul Shah. Later, the film was screened under police protection.
Notably, FTII is the same body where students and alumni cry for freedom of expression and freedom of thought, tried to create a ruckus at the venue when the screening was on.
These protestors have believed to have a left-supporting ideology. Drums and slogans were raised to stop this screening. Notably, the supporters of the film raised slogans against the protestors like Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jai, Jai Bhawani Jai Shivaji, Vande Mataram and others. Citing the tense atmosphere a heavy police force was deployed on place.
The screening of the film ‘The Kerala Story’ was organized by the Mitee Film Society. A chat program with director Sudipto Sen was also organized after the film. Actress Adah Sharma and producer Vipul Shah were also present for this chat. However, around 20 to 25 students assembled in front of the auditorium and started raising slogans against the screening and the filmmakers.
Irrespective of all of this, the producer-director duo of the movie – Vipul Shah and Sudipto Sen – had an interaction with the invited audience and recounted their experiences during and after making of the movie.
A statement signed by Mankap Nokwoham, president and Sayantan Chakrabarti, general secretary of FTII Student’s Association said, “… we believe it is our student community’s duty to denounce the vile propaganda that this film aims to unfurl…It is plainly visible for all that this is nothing but part of the growing trend to amplify stories that stoke the ruling dispensation’s Hindudva-nationalist agenda. Under the protective umbrella of blatant lies, which have scarily become commonplace, and have come under threat of remaining unchecked, the film’s promotions have been obvious in their aim to encourage and reinforce Islamophobia and hence also the hate crimes emerging from it.”
Accordingly, the protestors put up many placards, banners and posters in the premise against the screening. The audience also tolerated this but students were adamant. They went on to further march into the theatre itself. They beat the drum noisily and chanted many slogans. The policemen even had to manhandle some of them to stop them from entering the theatre. The situation was soon brought under control by the police.
Milind Lele, President of the Mitee Film Society said that this aggressiveness was totally uncalled for on the part of students and was totally against the spirit of freedom of expression. The Mitee Film Society condemns this behaviour and expresses its trust in the peaceful interaction and propagation of thoughts. It is to be noted that because of Mitee Film Society’s initiative, the director and other crew members of the film had a peaceful dialogue with the agitating students.
Later, in his interaction, Sen said that we were told and taught for a long that terrorism has no religion. But when we showed the terror network through our films, some elements linked it with religion. This is lamentable.
Asked about the objection raised by some quarters that The Kerala Story is a propaganda movie, the duo replied in unison that the movie has garnered a thumping response from movie goers. It is making records and people have replied with huge numbers to the objection of being a propaganda film. We have fought 15 court cases that tried to thwart the release of the movie and we have won all of them everywhere.
Sudipto Sen and producer Vipul Shah came to FTI and met the protesting students. Communicated with them and assured them that if they have any doubts, they can independently re-organize the screening for them. There was no verbal altercation between the two groups during the event. But, the sloganeering was given a resounding reply.