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Finally, British film board gives thumbs up to The Kerala Story with caveats

The Kerala Story releases in the UK this week

After almost a week of discussion and viewing of The Kerala Story at least four times, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has approved the movie for viewing by people of 18 years and over. The BBFC took a decision about the movie on Tuesday evening.

Suresh Varsani, director of the distributing company, 24 SEVEN FLIX4U, told India Narrative that he will be releasing the movie across the UK including Scotland and Ireland. “We are hopeful of getting 30 screens and will release it in Tamil and Hindi”, he added.

The distributor said that the BBFC’s senior management also viewed the movie for the age classification. The film board is believed to have viewed The Kerala Story in at least three languages.

Varsani said that he had applied for an age certification of 15 years, which is the age group for which the movie has been released for viewing across 36-odd countries. The movie, which is based on true stories of Indian girls who converted to Islam and joined international terror group ISIS to fight for jihad in foreign lands, had been slated for release in the UK last week.

The unusual delay in age certification led to the cancellation of the movie across the UK last weekend, May 12-14, forcing cinema halls to refund advance payments. The global distributors for the film had paid Express Service fee to the BBFC for the quick release of the film – usually done in just one viewing and 24 hours.

The delay by the British board prompted an online campaign by the Indian diaspora.

Varsani says he was keen to screen the movie in the UK “because The Kerala Story depicts a narrative that is happening with girls in the UK also. The fact is that ISIS is misusing religion and that is why we want people to see the movie”.

The film has become controversial in India as Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee banned it while cinema halls withdrew it in Tamil Nadu after certain groups threatened violence. With Islamist groups opposing the screening in Maharashtra and Jammu, there have been reports of attacks on movie goers.

Also read: The Kerala Story set for release in the UK, big crowds expected amid debate and apprehension