The Kerala Story: A Movie Review

The Kerala Story is an epoch making film.

Exceptionally well crafted by Sunshine Pictures, Vipul Amritlal Shah, superbly directed by Sudipto Sen, brilliant acting by everyone in cast, excellent cinematography and haunting melodious music, this movie is an experience worth watching again.

Centered around experiences of four young women, the movie takes you through picturesque locales of Tiruvananthapuram and Kasargod of Kerala to rugged terrains of Afghanistan and Iran, on the way narrates experiences of exploitation of innocence, faith and transformation of life.

This is not just a Kerala Story, it is also a story of Life.

The bubbly innocence of main protagonist- Shalini Unnikrishnan, full of naive curiosity, when removed from protective family environs of mother and grandmother, and smitten by love, gives way to a rigid belief, which takes her en route to Syria in search of a suggested redemption.

It is said that sensual attraction (kama) eventually leads to anger (krodha), delusion (sammoh), loss of memory, discriminative powers and finally to destruction.

In Ramayana, we see that a golden deer was presented to delude Sitadevi, eventually leading to great pain.

In this movie, sensual attraction towards a youth is used to delude Shalini, and make her submit to a scheme by multinational players.

(As an aside, the use of sensual attraction to delude people is SOP of advertisers. A prominent film actor who features in ad against smoking sells pan masala in another)

While the plan succeeded in the case of Shalini, it failed at different stages in the case of her two friends- Gitanjali Menon and Nimah Mathews.

Gitanjali and Shalini, both of whom did not carry any fixed religious belief, were easy prey for the scheme, however Nimah’s religious upbringing gave a different effect, though still painful. Asifa a victim of religious indoctrination, preys over her friends` innocence, to gain a possible heaven.

The four protagonists in a certain way represents the four groups that inhabit Gods Own Country today- the so-called majority community comprising in one part- of atheist orientation, and second- of superficially traditional, yet naively ignorant populace; and the two so-called minority communities, who are actually global majorities wielding hegemonic influence worldwide as well as in Kerala.

The script by Suryapal Singh is imaginative, editing by Sanjay Sharma is taut, background score by Bishakh Jyoti is impactive, cinematography by Prasantanu Mohapatra is captivating, music by Veeresh Sreevalsa is melodious and acting by Adah Sharma (as Shalini Unnikrishnan), Siddhi Idnani (Geetanjali), Yogita Bihani (Nimah Thomas), Devadarshini (as Shalini’s mother- stellar performance), Sonia Balani (Asifa) and everyone else is superlative. The last song while credits are rolling, have a haunting, lingering presence.

The movie will certainly generate interest among people and will be talking point for long. All the cast and crew have done an exceptional job.

The movie faithfully depicts ISIS atrocities seen in videos available online.
How people can be motivated, programmed and weaponised to kill, subjugate and enslave other humans, apparently in service of a God, is a phenomenon that has transcended millenniums. From burning of women at stakes in Europe and Inquisitions, to decimation of civilization of Persia, and natives from across continents of Americas, repeated assaults on Bharat, to ISIS, Al Qaeda, Taliban, wave after wave, of assaults on humans by humans. Why?


Some questions naturally arise- Is there a God who sanctions these? Will these ever end? Will Keralites stop falling prey to mischievous global players? Will Kukus and Nagas live with Meitis as humans, rather than religious followers?
Will Kashmiris return to their homes?
Why can’t humans live as humans, with love and compassion towards each other? Why does the sweet innocence of Shalini Unnikrishnans give way to delusion and despair?

ISIS is only a continuation of Kasim-Ghori-Gazni-Khilji-Tuglaq-Timur-Mughals-NadirShah-Abdali-Tipu etc., and there is every chance of these happening in future. Indoctrinated people made to do inhuman acts.

Then, what is the solution?

It is instructive at this juncture to seek what our culture tells us-
Why did Mata Kaikeyi send Sri Rama to forest for 14 years, how could she be so cruel to Sri Rama who was always like her son?
How could Mandhara convert the mind of Mata Kaikeyi- who was initially happy about Sri Rama’s coronation and even gifted her for bringing that good news; so easily?

Why did King Dasaratha have to inadvertently kill Shravana Kumara and suffer the pain of banishment of Sri Rama later?

How could Sitadevi be taken in by a golden deer enough to lose her protection in forest?

Why does Sitadevi’s innocence have to give way to delusion and despair?

Why does Draupadi, the queen herself, have to suffer ignominy in Kaurav sabha, that too in presence of Pitamah Bhishma and father-like Dhritarashtra?

Why did King Shantanu have to fall for a fisherwoman much younger to him and deprive kingship to his most able son Devavrat Bhishma, which culminated in Mahabharata yuddha?

Like a protagonist asks in the movie, why does Mahadev Shiva have to suffer from the pain of death of his wife Uma?
Why does Sri Rama have to take help of vanaras to defeat Ravana?
Why Sri Krishna has to desert Mathura and build Dwarka? and lose that city to sea along with his clan after his death?

Why Arjuna, the finest warrior, who had once thwarted an army comprising of Bhishmah Pitamah, Drona, Karna, Duryodhana at the Virata border at the end of Agyatvas, could not save the women of Dwarka from falling into hands of lesser rouges, after Sri Krishna`s passing?

Why did the wives of Sri Krishna have to suffer being abducted by robbers?

Why did Sitadevi choose to suffer life in jungle a second time?

Why did not she return to her father King Janak`s home after being abandoned by Sri Rama?

What do these tell us?

Does it tell us that pain and suffering are inevitable integral constants  of life?
That we must learn to live them, while adhering to dharma ?
Did they suffer to let us know that we too can surmount adversities?

Did Jesus suffer in the cross to wipe away `original sin of christians- as propagated by church`, or was it to show people that they too can transcend pain without losing their inherent quality of love and compassion?

There is a story of a sadhu who repeatedly helps a scorpion fallen into river from drowning, by trying to pick it up and put it to shore, but gets bitten by the scorpion everytime, yet goes about his task of rescue. A passerby asks the sadhu why not let the scorpion drown, why suffer its bite again and again?

The sadhu replies that scorpion`s instinct is to bite the hand that touches it and sadhus` dharmik duty is to disregard pain and bring it to safety. The scorpion does what it has to do and the sadhu does what he has to do. And that is Life.

An Alexander follows his instinct to subjugate others, until a Pururavas turns him back.

An Aurangzeb follows his indoctrination and subjugate others, until a Shivaji inspires Marathas to dismantle that adharmik empire.

A Mulayam consolidates his power with help of Atiqs until a Yogi dismantles their empires of crime.

Colonialist deep state uses sepoy-puppets to rule countries until a native Narendra rises to develop his Nation.

Time for the people of God`s Own Country to ask themselves this question- who is the God that owns their country, is it their own, or a foreign God ?

Time for many of them to stop worshipping the Maos and Lenins and other foreign Gods, and return to value their own. Until they gather the courage to do that, the innocence of Shalini Unnikrishnans may continue to convert to despair.

The land of Shankaracharya needs to bring forth another youth who can give political wisdom to the disparate caste-community organizations and consolidate them.

Even then, Innocence and despair, wisdom and delusion, light and darkness alternate in our lives.
Life is the riding of wave after wave after wave after waves, at the confluence of matter and energy, prakriti and purusha.

Is there a God then? An eternal heaven and eternal hell?

Western approach is of separation. Separating the God from creation, separating the creation into believers and unbelievers. Separating the believers into clergy and lay. Separating the lay believers further to dispense favours in heaven.

The Original Kerala Story of Adi Shankaracharya

Indic approach is of integration. Here, you Are That- तत् त्वम् असि (tat twam asi). You are the creator and the creation. You are the perpetrator when you unbridle your senses. You are the sufferer in the consequent delusion when you forget your essence. You are the savior when you remember your essence. You are the redeemer when you bridle your senses and traverse the path of dharma.

For the West, you are a hindu- a kafir, a pagan, a heathen, or a bourgeoisie- class enemy, a proletariat- sepoy, a tribal- primitive, black, white, hispanic, or a consumer to exploit.

If you follow West, you experience that.

If you remember your essence, you experience That.

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