Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s controversial film S Durga, originally titled Sexy Durga, will be released in Kerala on March 23 with the help of cinema lovers. In a unique distribution mechanism, about 25 groups comprising cinephiles and members of film societies have been formed to promote the Malayalam film across the state and appeal to theatre owners to screen it. The Hindu reported that about 20 theatres have come on board and more are likely to join soon.

“I approached the theatres in Kerala; they said the screens are packed and could not give a release date until May. We cannot wait until then, which leaves us with no other option but to release it in some other way,” Sasidharan told Livemint.

The promotional campaign was kickstarted by Malayalam director Adoor Gopalakrishnan in Thiruvananthapuram on March 19. Supported by the Kazcha Film Forum, groups are travelling across the state to promote S Durga through street plays.

“The campaign will be one spread across Kerala, starting from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital,” Sasidharan told The News Minute. The director said a “Cinema Vandi” (Cinema Vehicle) will promote S Durga under the banner of Kazhcha Chalachitra Vedhi.

Reports said that 10% of the revenue generated through the screening will be given to the campaigning groups, while the rest will go to the producers and theatre owners.

This will be the first theatrical release for Sasidharan’s acclaimed film, which has run into several hurdles in India even as it has enjoyed a successful run in international film festivals.

S Durga.

S Durga is a nightmarish take on the hostile world a woman encounters when she steps out of her comfort zone. Speaking to, Sasidharan had earlier said, “The title and the film blended... it is about how we worship goddesses on the one hand and how we treat women on the other.”

The film has won numerous accolades, including the Hivos Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2017, the Golden Apricot for the Best International Feature Competition at Armenia’s Yerevan International Film Festival and Best International Feature Narrative in Guanajuato International Film Festival, Mexico.

To be screened In India, however, S Durga was first forced to alter its title by the Central Board of Film Certification in October 2017. In November 2017, it was dropped from the International Film Festival of India held in Goa after the event organisers complained to the censor board that the film’s title card bore the name S### Durga (instead of just S Durga). The organisers alleged that this violated the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules and had “totally different implications”. The movie was finally cleared without cuts by the Revising Committee of the censor board in February.