LUCKNOW, May 9 (PTI): “The Kerala Story” will be tax free in Uttar Pradesh, chief minister Yogi Adityanath announced on Tuesday, prompting the opposition Samajwadi Party to say the state government should not use cinema and literature to impose “poisonous agenda on nation”.
The announcement comes days after the Madhya Pradesh government said it will give tax-free status to the film, while West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee ordered an immediate ban on its screening. In Tamil Nadu, multiplexes cancelled screenings of the controversial film from Sunday.
“‘The Kerala Story’ to be made tax free in Uttar Pradesh,” Adityanath said from his official Twitter handle.
According to Director Information Shishir, the UP chief minister will attend a special screening of the film in Lucknow on Friday.
“‘The Kerala Story’ will be made tax free in UP. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will watch the special screening of the movie with his cabinet on May 12 in Lucknow,” he said.
Reacting to the decision without naming anyone, Samajwadi Party National General Secretary Shivpal Singh Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi, “Leave ‘entertainment’ for ‘entertainment’ and don’t use cinema and literature to impose your poisonous agenda on the nation.”
“Any art that stems from the womb of hatred will be destructive for the nation and the society,” he added in his tweet.
Directed by Sudipto Sen, “The Kerala Story” depicts how women from Kerala were forced to convert to Islam and recruited by the terror group Islamic State (IS). The film, which was released on May 5, has kicked up a political storm.
On the day of the film’s release, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had credited the movie for bringing out terror conspiracies and used it to attack the Congress during an election rally in poll-bound Karnataka.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday announced tax-free status to the film in the state.
UP BJP secretary Abhijat Mishra on Saturday organised the screening of the controversial film for about 100 college girls in the city. The BJP leader booked a theatre and said the movie should be shown to young women to prevent them from ‘love jihad’.
‘Love jihad’ is a term often used by right-wing activists to allege a ploy by Muslim men to lure Hindu women into religious conversion through marriage.
Mishra had said the movie is based on true events and shows how gullible girls are manipulated and then converted.
“The Kerala Story”, starring Adah Sharma, was initially portrayed as “unearthing” the events behind “approximately 32,000 women” allegedly missing from Kerala. It is produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s Sunshine Pictures.
According to the CPI(M) and the Congress in Kerala, the film falsely claims that 32,000 women got converted, radicalised and were deployed in terror missions in India and the world. The filmmakers later changed the figure in the film’s trailer.
The Supreme Court on May 15 will hear a plea against the Kerala High Court order refusing to stay the film’s release.
In a statement, the Producers Guild of India on Tuesday condemned the state-enforced ban of the movie.
““The Producers Guild of India is distressed by, and would like to record its strong objection to, state-enforced bans on ‘The Kerala Story’.
“As emphasised by us on several occasions in the past, film releases are regulated by CBFC and any film that complies with this statutory requirement should face no further hurdles in having the paying public decide on its fate,” the trade body said.