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'The Kerala Story': Theatres stop screening due to poor audience response, TN govt to SC

New Delhi: The Tamil Nadu government told the Supreme Court that the filmmakers of 'The Kerala Story' have made deliberately misleading statements that the government has imposed a shadow ban on the movie, however, theatres stopped screening the film due to poor audience response.
An affidavit filed by Tamil Nadu said, "The exhibitors have themselves stopped the screening of the movie due to the poor audience response and the government cannot do anything to increase the audience patronage for the said film, except to provide security to the cinema theatres." The top court earlier asked the Tamil Nadu government to file a response to filmmakers' plea alleging that State has imposed a de facto ban on the movie in the State.
Filing the affidavit, the State said that the theatre owners had voluntarily stopped screening the film on May 7 onwards due to poor performance of actors/ poor response to the movie or lack of well-known actors in the movie.
"The multiplex owners took the decision to stop screening the film from May 5 in view of the criticism received by it / lack of well-known actors / poor performance / poor audience response. The State exercises no control over decisions. It is reiterated that this decision was made by the theatre owners on their own and the State had no role to play over the same," the affidavit added.
Tamil Nadu refuted the allegations of filmmakers that the State had imposed a "shadow ban" or issued an "alert" anticipating protests in connection with the release of the film due to which theatres in the State withdrew the film.
The movie was released across 19 multiplexes and the filmmakers have not produced any document to show that the State stopped the screening of the film, the state government said.
The State in fact deployed more police forces in every multiplex so that cinema goers can watch the movie without any law and order issues, it added.
The affidavit stated that over 965 police personnel including 25 DSPs were posted for the protection of the 21 movie theatres which had screened the film.
The makers in the apex court also alleged that the movie is facing a 'shadow' ban in Tamil Nadu and sought protection for screening the film in the southern State.
Earlier, the apex court questioned the West Bengal government over banning the film saying the movie is running in different parts of the country with similar demographic profiles.
A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha said, "The movie is being released all over the country and why the West Bengal government should not allow it to run."
It said that if the public does not think that the film is not worth seeing, they will not see it and questioned West Bengal about what should not allow a film to run.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered an immediate ban on the screening of the film in the State to avoid "Any incident of hatred and violence and to maintain peace in the state".
The makers contended that the State government has no power to ban a movie which has been certified for public viewing by the Central Board of Film Certification.
State government cannot cite law and order issues to stop the screening of the movie, which will result in the violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed to them, the plea of filmmakers said.
The film depicts how thousands of young women were allegedly brainwashed into joining the Islamic State (IS) and heading off to countries like Syria and Afghanistan.
'The Kerala Story', starring Adah Sharma, was released in cinemas on May 5. (ANI)

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