The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will be viewing The Kerala Files for the fourth time on Tuesday, May 16, in a strenuous effort to certify the film for screening in British cinema halls.
The BBFC has viewed the movie thrice already – at least twice last week and once today. Sources told India Narrative that the BBFC has seen the movie in at least three languages and has not been able to take a decision – which they say, is unprecedented.
Suresh Varsani, director of the distributing firm, 24 SEVEN FLIX4U, told India Narrative that the BBFC’s senior management will watch the movie on Tuesday, the fourth time, and “hopefully” give the age classification that is holding the movie from being screened.
The British have 'stuffed it up' by seemingly censoring The Kerala Story in the UK. As with The Kashmir Files, this will only help the film grow even bigger: Charles Thomson | #Shorts@sudiptoSENtlm @adah_sharma @sunshinepicture #TheKeralaStory pic.twitter.com/OAsPdLxWzC
— Citti Media (@CittiMedia) May 13, 2023
The global distributors for the film had paid Express Service fee to the BBFC for quick release of the film. According to the BBFC website, the Express Service guarantees providing the age certification for a movie within 48 hours. Sources say that it has been a week of indecision for a board which mostly decides after one screening and in 24 hours.
The BBFC watched the movie on Wednesday, then on Thursday last week. The board told the UK distributors on Friday afternoon that it won’t be able to provide the age certification on Friday after which cinema halls across the UK had to cancel shows and refund money to the people. Cine buffs had booked advance shows for the entire weekend beginning Friday.
The BBFC even pinned the status of its indecision over The Kerala Story on its Twitter handle.
The Kerala Story is still going through our classification process. Once the film has received a BBFC age rating and content advice, it will be available to be screened in UK cinemas. 1/2
— BBFC (@BBFC) May 12, 2023
The reaction of the British certification board has been questioned by the Indian diaspora as the movie has already been released in over 35 countries in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu with English subtitles.
Hundreds of members of the Indian diaspora, including from organisations like INSIGHT UK have been writing to the BBFC, “to express their concern regarding the unusual delay in the certification of the movie” that creates awareness against a global terror group like the ISIS.
In its campaign for the release of the movie, the diaspora highlighted that the movie tells the story of Shalini, who is abducted, converted to Islam and compelled to join the ISIS – a tale that resonates with many teenage girls in the UK, including that of Shamima Begum.
#TheKeralaStory certified *16* in Ireland 🇮🇪 without any cuts. BBFC classification for UK 🇬🇧 release is still pending. Might get an update tomorrow. Stay Tuned. pic.twitter.com/8VwPGKw8ik
— Nishit Shaw (@NishitShawHere) May 14, 2023
In their complaint to the certification board, British Indians have written to the BBFC saying that “the movie is an eye-opener on how extremist forces lure young children, radicalise them, traffic them to Syria for training or to be used as sex slaves and prepare them for terror attacks”, adding that the film mirrors the story of British youngsters who have been radicalised to join extremist organisations and brainwashed to fight against their own country.
The Kerala Story, which has seen much debate in India, unravels how girls from countries like India are brainwashed into joining the ISIS terror campaign in countries like Syria and Afghanistan. It takes up true examples of three girls from India’s southern state Kerala who converted and left India to fight for ISIS in strange lands.
The movie raises a uncomfortable questions for countries all over the world – as tiny as the Maldives to an entire continent like Europe, whose girls were trafficked as sex slaves and as fighters for the cause of jihad.
Also Read: The Kerala Story set for release in the UK, big crowds expected amid debate and apprehension