Film: The Kerala Story
Cast: Adah Sharma, Yogita Bihani, Sonia Balani, Siddhi Idnani
Director: Sudipto Sen
Rating: 3 Moons
Kerala is called God's Own Country and rightfully so. From the calming backwaters to lush greenery, it gives you all the love and positive energy. However, hidden underneath the layer of positivity is a harrowing 'reality'. In The Kerala Story, filmmaker Sudipto Sen attempts to translate the horrors experienced by Hindu and other caste females at the behest of blind followers of Islam.
Headlined by Adah Sharma, Yogita Bihani, Sonia Balani and Siddhi Idnani, The Kerala Story narrates how the lives of Shalini (Adah Sharma) and Geetanjali (Siddhi Idnani) change when they are forced to convert to Islam by their Muslim roommate Asifa (Sonia Balani). Nimah Mathew (Yogita Bihani), a staunch follower of Christianity, refuses to fall into the trap of conversion but she has her own battles to fight owing to the decision she took.
The Kerala Story is a gutsy film. It isn't a cakewalk to make a film of this nature. To visualise scenarios that allegedly took place but nobody saw is a task in itself. The Kerala Story is not The Kashmir Files and this has to be made clear. It attempts to give the audience a sneak peek into the haunting tales of torture and mental disharmony of women who are brainwashed quickly by those who are dear to them. The impact it causes on the lives of young minds forms the core of the story.
Sudipto takes a big risk with The Kerala Story. With 4 relatively young actresses, he builds a world that's grim, dark and uncomfortable. He succeeds to an extent but the lack of bluntness is sensed. The atmosphere is created with the intent of giving you a sense of foreboding constantly. The non-linear storytelling works for The Kerala Story as it allows some time to look back at the happier lives Shalini, Geetanjali and Nimah lived before experiencing the horror. The background score and cinematography play an important role in elevating the film.
The fundamental problem of The Kerala Story is that the director along with his writers Suryapal Singh and Vipul Amrutlal Shah focuses too much on projecting one community in a bad light and forgets to add layers and depth to their protagonists. The brainwashing seems too quick and unreal to believe, cinematically. The characters fail to resonate as much as they were designed to. The one-toned narrative is a major letdown. Repetitive long speeches and heavy-weight dialogues get boring after a point. The Kerala Story couldn't keep itself safe from stereotypes.
What keeps The Kerala Story alive is the spark in Adah Sharma and Siddhi Idnani's incredible performances. They carry the film on their shoulders and excel even when the film falters and gets stuck in flaws. It is indeed their careers' best. Yogita Bihani shines as Nimah. She is convincing in her portions. The actress, however, deserves more. Sonia Balani is good too.
The Kerala Story could come across either as an eye-opener or a source to manipulate. The fact that it has made it through the censor board makes it a winner already. The grim situation has been highlighted but with a little more conviction, confidence and believability in characters, it had the potential to be a masterpiece.
PeepingMoon gives The Kerala Story 3 Moons