'Yes' propaganda, 'No' propaganda: The tale of two Kerala stories

'The Kerala Story' slammed for being propaganda piece; '2018' for not being one


On May 5, two movies graced the screens, each presenting a wildly different take on Kerala. We had The Kerala Story, a cinematic “masterpiece” that was even promoted by the ‘you know who’ for its audacious attempt to label an entire state and community as terrorists. Oh, the subtlety! It must have taken a genius to come up with such absurd stereotypes and false claims.

But fear not! 2018: Everyone is a Hero swooped in to save the day, showcasing Kerala's resilience and unity in the face of unimaginable calamity. It received thunderous applause from the Malayali cyberspace, for serving as the “perfect antidote” to the hate propagated by Sen et al. “Bravo, 2018! You truly captured the spirit of the people,” it said.

Now, let's talk numbers because apparently, that's what defines “success” in the world of cinema. The Kerala Story managed to join the prestigious Rs 100-crore club in just ten days. Unsurprising though. Hate sells well here.

Meanwhile, 2018 took an extra day to achieve the same feat. The survival thriller attracted the family audience and infused some oxygen into many Kerala theatres currently in the ICU. Hallelujah!

But wait, there's always a sour grape in the bunch. It seems that a certain section is miffed about 2018's triumph and the narrative it subtly weaves. How dare it not be a propaganda film idolising their beloved (and “double-hearted”) Premier v2.0? The disappointment is palpable! They made quite a fuss about The Kerala Story being a propaganda piece, but alas, 2018 didn't meet their lofty expectations. Oh, the irony!

Njngal aswastharaanu (We are unhappy)

The grumpy gang of hornets won't rest until they've unleashed their fury upon the "apolitical" filmmaker who had the audacity to omit the punch dialogues of their Premier and cast a feeble figure to portray his role. How dare he cast a 77-year-old actor to portray their beloved Premier, who, coincidentally, is also 77 years old! The nerve of that filmmaker!

Oh, the indignation! The disgruntled hornets took to their keyboards, crafting lengthy essays and recording never-ending rants to showcase their unwavering loyalty towards their Premier. They were determined to prove a point, and boy, did they go the extra mile!

Meanwhile, the filmmaker, in his infinite wisdom, used the success of his film as an opportunity to settle some personal scores. What a genius! Little did he know that his own stupidity would become the ammunition for their counter-narratives against 2018. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot!

Quest for "fictitious" historical accuracy!

Even this writer agrees with the grumpy hornets on one point: 2018 is just not up to snuff when it comes to being "historically accurate." Sure, it's a gripping film with plenty of spine-tingling moments to keep you on the edge of your seat. But alas, it fails to capture the essence of the order—the system—that arose amidst the chaos that unfolded during the deluge.

Oh, the irony! Imagine if the film had actually strived for that elusive "historical accuracy." It would have been a disaster for the Premier! Why, you ask? Because it would have dragged the tales of faulty dam management, as confirmed by a study from IISc Bengaluru, back into the limelight. Can't have that, now, can we?

So, here we are, stuck in a comical dilemma. On one hand, we have a thrilling film that leaves us spellbound but lacks that historical precision. On the other hand, we have a Premier who dodges the bullet of public scrutiny, thanks to the ‘apolitical’ film's focus on other aspects. What a tangled web we weave!