There’s no stopping The Kerala Story at the box office and seems like, the conversations surrounding the film won’t die anytime soon either. Many in the film fraternity have voiced their opinions on the film, which revolves around a Hindu woman from Kerala who is converted to Islam and trafficked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Recently, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap in a cryptic tweet also expressed his opinions on the film and the demand for its ban. “You agree with the film or not, be it propaganda, counter propaganda, offensive or not, to ban it is just wrong,” he wrote, seemingly underlining his stance.
And now, in an exclusive chat with News18, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui reacts to Anurag’s cryptic post. “I agree with him. But if a film or a novel is hurting someone, then that’s wrong. We don’t make films to hurt the audience or their sentiments,” he says without making any reference to The Kerala Story, much like his Gangs Of Wasseypur director.
Nawazuddin went on to tell us that any art form should be able to unite people rather than create divisions among them. “We make films to foster social harmony and love among people. It’s our responsibility to propagate the same. Nothing in this world deserves to be banned. But if a film has the power to break people and social harmony, it’s extremely wrong. Humein iss duniya ko jodna hai, todna nahi hai,” he asserts.
Nawazuddin’s upcoming film Jogira Sara Ra Ra was all set to hit the theatres on May 12 but has been pushed to May 26. The makers of the film attributed this decision to multiple releases happening on the former date. But a report claimed that it was done owing to the success of The Kerala Story, which could have affected the box office and screen numbers of Jogira Sara Ra Ra. Quiz the 49-year-old about it and he says, “I’ve no idea if it has been pushed because of The Kerala Story. All I know is that there were many films releasing on May 12 and we didn’t have enough time to promote our film.”
Talking about the significance of promoting a film like Jogira Sara Ra Ra, Nawazuddin explains, “The film is set in a small town and so, we wanted to reach out to our audience in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab and meet them because it is their film. We wanted to tell them to not drive love away but to retain it in their lives against all odds.”
The Serious Men (2020) and Photograph (2018) actor believes that working on a film, irrespective of the budget it is made on, will bear no fruit unless it gets the opportunity to be released in a big way. Having been relegated to smaller roles in the initial phase of his career, he now intends to headline films and work towards making them accessible to the audience across the length and breadth of the country. “Ours is a small film but we wanted to reach to the target audience. They should know that our film is releasing,” he states.
He further elaborates, “In my opinion, there are two kinds of actors – the industry actor and the massy actor. The thing is, films that star these massy actors who belong to the audience aren’t doing well these days. They are barely being released in 100 or 200 screens. The audience wants to watch them but aren’t able to. So, what’s the point? As for the industry actor, their films are releasing in almost all theatres in the country. Even if the audience doesn’t want to watch their films, they’re bound to.”
Jogira Sara Ra Ra is directed by Kushan Nandy and jointly produced by Kiran Shroff and Naeem Siddiqui. It also stars Neha Sharma.