The Supreme Court has scheduled an urgent hearing on May 12 for the petition filed by The Kerala Story filmmakers against the West Bengal government’s ban on screening the movie and the Tamil Nadu government’s “de facto” freeze on the movie. The appeal against the Kerala High Court’s decision to refuse a stay on the release of the movie on May 5 was initially scheduled to be heard on May 15. However, senior advocate Harish Salve pleaded urgency for the case, citing that the filmmakers were losing money every day.
Mr. Salve argued that not only had West Bengal and Tamil Nadu already imposed restrictions on the film, but another state was also considering a similar ban. The filmmaker’s appeal for artistic freedom and the need to strike a balance were also highlighted during the Kerala High Court’s refusal to stay the movie’s release.
The Kerala Story has been embroiled in controversy since its announcement, with some Hindu groups accusing the filmmakers of hurting religious sentiments by portraying Hindu symbols in a negative light. The movie is based on the real-life story of a young Muslim man who falls in love with a Hindu girl and their struggles to overcome societal and religious barriers to be together.
The controversy escalated after the Kerala government initially granted permission for the film’s release but later withdrew it following protests by Hindu groups. The film was then banned in West Bengal, and the Tamil Nadu government also issued a high alert at the time of its release.
The case is expected to be heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud on May 12. The outcome of the case could have significant implications for artistic freedom and the regulation of content in India.