Supporting the artistic freedom of a filmmaker, the Kerala High Court on Friday, January 7, asked the state police to see if there was any statutory violation in screening the Malayalam movie Churuli and to submit a report. The court was hearing a petition by Peggy Fen about the content of the film, alleged to be abusive and obscene. Justice PV Kunhikrishnan, who heard the petition, said that prima facie, he did not think there was any statutory violation, reports LiveLaw.
Churuli, a Malayalam film directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery, was screened at film festivals before it was released on an Over-the-top (OTT) platform in November 2021. After the release of the movie, a controversy broke out regarding the dialogue in the film, which largely used profanities. Chemban Vinod and Vinay Forrt play the lead characters in the film, as two police officers who go in disguise to a village called Churuli in search of a criminal. The ways of the villagers are strange and the cops find that the moment they cross a bridge and enter Churuli, their behaviour changes from being overly polite and quiet to being angry and abusive.
The court said that the petitioner had picked out only certain instances from the film with abusive content and not narrated its plot. The petitioner had asked for the removal of the film from the OTT platform, which the court said it cannot do. Briefly narrating the plot, the court further observed that the film was on an OTT platform and no one was under compulsion to watch it.
â€śInvoking the powers under Article 226 of the Constitutionâ€ť (to exercise power through the issuance of writs) the court also said that it cannot ask a filmmaker to use a certain slang in Malayalam in the movie. It can only examine whether the exhibition of the film â€śviolates any existing statutory provision enacted to ensure public order, decency or morality". Justice Kunhikrishnan also spoke about the artistic freedom of the filmmaker and opined that there appears to be no criminal offence. However, he directed the state police chief to constitute a team in three days to watch the movie and file a report.