KERALA HIGH COURT STAYS RELEASE OF MALAYALAM FILM TITLED ‘AQUARIUM’

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On hearing the petition filed by two Catholic nuns Sr Josia and Sr Mary KG(“Petitioners”), the Kerala High Court has issued stay for two weeks for the certification granted to Malayalam Film ‘Aquarium’. Read Order here.

Film ‘Aquarium’ is starring Arjun Sunny Wayne, V K Prakash, Sabu Cyril, Honey Rose, Rajshri Ponnappa and directed by T Deepesh and produced by Shaji Kannambeth under the banner of Kannambeth Productions and was slated to be released on the OTT platform “Saina Play” on 14th May 2021.

The Petitioners alleged that theme of the script of the Film offends the religious sentiments of Christians as a whole and nuns and priests in particular. According to reports, the maker of the film stated that film deals with how religions exploit women’s mental and physical problems.

The Petitioners claimed that portrayal of nuns and priests and their sexualities amounts to cheap publicity and is to defame Christianity by “giving a totally different concept of priesthood and to the nunship.” It contains messages of communal divide and disharmony among the members of different community.

The Petitioners further also alleged that the Film certification was obtained by fraud, as the Film was originally named ‘Pithavinum Puthranum Parisudhathmavinum‘ which would mean ‘Father, Son and the Holy Spirit’ and was completed in 2012-13. While producers had applied for certificate from the censor board, the censor board had denied as the content of the Film was likely to hurt the religious sentiments of the Christian community. Later the word “Parisudhathmavinum” (Holy Spirit) was deleted by the producers. After overcoming two censor board bans, Film was finally titled ‘Aquarium’ and now slated to be released on OTT as these are not subject to any regulation presently.

Further the Petitioners claimed that the contents of the Film indirectly affect the fundamental right of the Catholic Christian community and its believers exceeding the constitutional limits of freedom of expression and the same time, the right of worship as guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

While passing an interim order, court said the matter is to be heard in detail and the jurisdiction of the court also has to be decided.

The matter in the Kerala High Court is expected to be taken up next on 20th May 2021.

Similar Plea was filed in Delhi High Court :

A similar petition was filed by Sr Jessy Mani, a catholic nun in the Delhi High Court seeking to stop the release of the Malayalam Film titled ‘Aquarium’ on the OTT platform “Saina Play” alleging that Film is blasphemous in nature, and hurts the religious sentiments of the Christian people at large.

The Petitioner claimed that the trailer of the Film is available on various social media platforms and from the trailer, it was gathered that nuns have been characterized as lusty women and priests as deviant characters in Film and it could be seen that the Film ‘depicts the sexual relationship of nuns with two priests and also an emotional relationship with Jesus Christ’.

The Petitioner further alleged that the religious life of catholic priests and nuns are portrayed merely as sex toys and there are scenes of sexual relationships among same-sex, between priests and nuns and sex with animals, in a highly derogatory manner in the Film thereby clearly tarnishing the reputation of the Catholic Church and its members, which in turn would demoralize the members who joined in the priestly order and nunship.

The petitioner claimed that there are conversations in the Film between the characters which give a wrong impression of the Christians. There are also misquoting of the Song of ‘Songs from the Holy Bible’ for depicting Jesus Christ as a romantic God which is with intention to commit blasphemy to hurt the religious feelings of Christians.

The petition prays for a writ of mandamus to direct the Union to take steps to stop the release of the Film and defer the release of the Film, till a decision is taken on it.