Two delegates were allegedly detained at the Panaji police station for an hour on Monday after peacefully protesting against the screening of director Sudipto Sen’s controversial film The Kerala Story at the 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. The delegates have been identified as Sreenath, a documentary maker, and Archana Ravi, an illustrator, both hailing from Kerala.
The film, which was released on May 5 this year, had been reviewed by many film critics as 'hate propaganda,' with a lot of Keralites taking to social media to bash it. Some even compared it to Jude Anthany Joseph's 2018 stating that the latter is 'The Real Kerala Story'.
Displaying a piece of paper with a meme captioned “Sudipto Sen: The Kerala Story, Source: Trust me bro!”, the duo also distributed a 'fact kit' debunking claims made in the movie.
Sreenath then took to X (Twitter) around 6.30 pm on Monday to share the duo’s experience, stating that they had marked their dissent against the screening of the film at IFFI because it was a propaganda movie. “We were detained by the Goan police, and they took away our IFFI delegate pass banning us from the festival,” he tweeted.
However, IFFI authorities stated that the two protesters were only called to the police station for interrogation and were later allowed to go with a warning.
The film festival's organisers said they received complaints from other delegates at the event about the duo's protest against Sen's film.
They also added that the duo went around interacting with other delegates at IFFI and told them that The Kerala Story was a "propaganda film".
Meanwhile, the duo hosted an Instagram live explaining how the filmmaker Sen had initiated a verbal argument with them after noticing their protest, following which the police intervened and took them to the station. Their IFFI delegate passes were also taken away, allegedly after Sen asked the organisers to do so.
Expressing concern over what happened to them, Archana said, “I am really worried about a police state.” She also added that taking away their right to dissent is evidence that the country is turning into a police state.
“The police were saying you shouldn’t do this because you are spreading hate. But actually, we are resisting hate. The Kerala Story is a propaganda film against the people of Kerala and we cannot let it pass. We are standing for the people of Kerala, the minorities and for films,” Sreenath mentioned in the video.