Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid got the ‘The Kashmir Files’ movie at a film festival in a blizzard. Lapid is an Israeli screenwriter and film director. Film critics consider him to be among the most acclaimed filmmakers from Israel. He was the head of the international jury at the International Film Festival of India in Goa, and said at the festival’s closing ceremony that the Vivek Agnihotri-directed film was “propaganda and vulgar”. He said the jury was “disturbed and shocked” at the screening of the film.
His remarks sparked a huge row, with many accusing the award-winning filmmaker of being insensitive towards the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits, who were forced to flee the Valley at the height of militancy in the 90s. Many wondered how someone from a community that faced the horrors of the Holocaust could make such remarks. The movie, which was promoted by leaders of the ruling BJP, has been a commercial success but has also faced allegations of fanning communal sentiments. In his interview, Mr Lapid said that while he was watching the movie, he was shocked by the “transparent combination between propaganda and fascism and vulgarity”.
The Kashmir Files was beyond success because through this movie right-wingers and BJP leaders successfully spread their agenda. Including PM Modi, all the star worlds of the BJP endorsed the movie and appealed to people to watch it. There was 24/7 TV hammering in TV debates and social media propaganda to attract audiences. Earning money is different and spreading hate is much different so the director might have bullied commoners of India but intellectuals did not buy his uncouthness.
The forgotten director Vivek Agnihotri and his wife got some life and relevance after this movie but lost their credibility as creative people. The comment of an Israeli director and jury chairperson of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) has brutally exposed the agenda of the Agnihotri couple. Lapid’s comments on the film came at the closing ceremony of the 53rd edition of IFFI on Monday in Goa.
As the controversy grew, more people joined the discourse against him. While some spoke up in his defence, others have accused him of being insensitive towards the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits.
Kashmir files are a very ideological film and it was severely “loaded” with fiction but not facts. After the movie, many Kashmiri pandits and Muslims came together to protest against the movie stating that the movie was factually incorrect and it was the mind game of the director to create unrest in the valley. It targets the ideological, psychological and socio-cultural rifts between two very distinct groups of people in a region. In addition to this, truth, in reality, is often discovered somewhere in the middle of two oppositional arguments, both of which only hint at the truth in ways that benefit their narrative.
One can only wonder, though, until the filmmakers themselves give an honest opinion. And if it were propaganda, you can rest assured, you aren’t getting an honest opinion. The movie was melodramatic and overloaded with Propaganda. The Kashmir Files movie is made with an agenda and certainly missed its credibility because the writer and director have failed to ask the present government, what has stopped them from rehabilitating Pandits in the Valley? No political party, including BJP, is interested in doing anything for them because they (Kashmiri Pandit) are not a sizable vote bank, with a population of less than a million. What else do you expect from a political party? Meanwhile, how many Kashmiri Pandits really want to return? No one is really sure; all the so-called custodians of Pandits are in major cities across the globe.
The biggest point to my mind is that if this issue is solved, how will BJP and Kashmiri political parties use this emotive issue to create frenzy and support for divisive politics? They are all interested in keeping this issue alive and simmering for their own petty interests. It is ironic that the separatists in Kashmir and Political parties are converging in their interest to keep this issue simmering. Why are these filmmakers shying away from making the present government accountable? There are hundreds of such movies made in the past but what these moviemakers lack is the will to ask questions.