The culture of banning films in India have existed since the British era. Banning a film or a book had no logical reasoning and were done randomly. It had nothing to do with the excuses that are offered now, such as: disturbing harmony, spreading unrest, hurting religious sentiments, and so on. Currently, the film that has fall prey to the culture is the controversial film the Kerala Story. Though, well accepted among the public, the hype created around the film is simply baseless. It has nothing to do with public perceptions.
In the mid-‘70s, when the Emergency was in force, the film Aandhi was banned because the prime minister at that time thought the film aimed to show her in a bad light! Aandhi, was the story of a woman driven by her ambitious politician father to make a career in politics at the cost of her marriage. The film did well, thanks to powerful performances by Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen, and the musical score that reverberates even today.
The two recent targets for bans, ‘The Kashmir Files’ and ‘The Kerala Story’, led to so much controversy that it generated public interest to watch the film . Kashmir Files was lauded enough by the public for showing what happened in Kashmir and stirred emotions towards the people of Kashmir. Similarly, what was happening with the women in Kerala was no secret and was always in the news. People were indifferent as if it was all happening in some other part of the world! Even the television news channels barely touched the subject. So what was it about the film version that stirred up such a frenzy?
With both ‘The Kashmir Files’ and ‘The Kerala Story’, the people at large were aware that injustice had been meted out to people about which there was nothing they could do. Now, with endorsing such films, the public at large is countering such banning calls. Otherwise ‘The Kashmir Files’ wouldn’t have done 12 times the business of the same filmmaker’s, ‘The Tashkent Files’! at whopping Rs 244 crore. This is the kind of business successful commercial potboilers do. ‘The Kerala Story’ figures are equally unimaginable. Having opened with about Rs 8 crore on day one, it is growing each day with first week collection close to Rs 80 crore!. Film Trade analyst Taran Adarsh in his Tweet had this amazing figures for The Kerala story.
#TheKeralaStory cruises past ₹ 200 cr mark… Achieves ALL TIME BLOCKBUSTER status… [Week 3] Fri 6.60 cr, Sat 9.15 cr, Sun 11.50 cr, Mon 4.50 cr. Total: ₹ 203.47 cr. #India biz. Nett BOC. #Boxoffice pic.twitter.com/Dy2EVIp2pe
— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) May 23, 2023
Thanks to the banning culture, people are more interested in watching such films and honour the efforts of the film-makers. What is more, the governments which did not act on the issues at stake in Kashmir and Kerala are promoting such films by triggering debates and giving tax exemption thereby, symbolically endorsing the film.