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‘Vulgar’, ‘Propaganda’: Full story of ‘The Kashmir Files’ controversy

Oscars 2023: The Kashmir Files among 5 Indian films eligible for nominations
'The Kashmir Files' poster
Written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri and produced by Zee Studios, the film depicts the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir following the killings of people from the community by Pakistan-backed terrorists. It stars Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi among others.

Jammu: Hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah as true story of the sufferings of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, ‘The Kashmir Files’ ran into a major controversy with an Israeli filmmaker calling the Vivek Agnihotri production as ‘vulgar’ and ‘propaganda’.

The remarks by Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, the jury head of the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), describing Hindi film ‘The Kashmir Files’ as “propaganda” and “vulgar” also appeared to be threatening India-Israel relations promoting Israeli envoy to New Delhi issue a statement.

Israel and India share exceptionally good diplomatic relations and a nearly common view on world affairs.

Following Nadav Lapid’s remarks, several major leaders from Bhartiya Janta Party rushed to the support of filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri who said, in a cryptic social media post, ‘truth is the most dangerous thing as it can make people lie’.

The Congress, however, attacked the government over Lapid’s criticism of ‘The Kashmir Files’ calling it an “embarrassment” and saying that hate eventually gets called out. “PM Modi, his govt, BJP, the RW ecosystem feverishly promoted ‘The Kashmir Files’ A movie rejected by International Film Festival Of India. Jury Head Nadav Lapid called it ‘propaganda, vulgar movie – inappropriate for the film festival’,” Congress spokesperson and head of the party’s social media department Supriya Srinate said.

What happened?  

Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, the jury head of the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), on Monday described Hindi film ‘The Kashmir Files’ as “propaganda” and “vulgar”.

In his speech at the closing ceremony of IFFI 2022, Lapid said he was “disturbed and shocked” to see the film being screened at the film festival.

“All of us were disturbed and shocked by the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’. It felt to us like a propaganda and vulgar movie that was inappropriate for an artistic and competitive section of such a prestigious film festival.

“I feel comfortable to openly share this feeling with you since the spirit of the festival can truly accept critical discussion which is essential for art and life”, Lapid said.

Israeli reaction

After Lapid criticised the film, the country’s envoy to India Naor Gilon slammed him, saying he should be “ashamed” as he had “abused in the worst way” the Indian invitation to him to chair the panel of judges at the film festival.

‘The Kashmir Files’, which was released in theatres on March 11, was part of the Indian Panorama Section at IFFI and was screened on November 22.

In Mumbai, Israel’s Consul General to Midwest India Kobbi Shoshani, while distancing himself and the state from filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s remarks on the film, said “the debate over The Kashmir Files will strengthen relations between India and Israel”.

Shoshani, who shared the dais with actor Anupam Kher at a press conference, said the “The Kashmir Files” is not propaganda but a “strong movie” that gives place to sufferings of the people of Kashmir.

“The first person I called in the morning was Anupam Kher, my friend, just to apologise. Apologise about a speech that was a private opinion. (Lapid’s remarks) have nothing to do with the state of Israel, officially and unofficially,” Shoshani told reporters.

On Monday evening, he put out a Twitter post saying he shared a different opinion than Lapid on the film and had told him so after the comments at the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India in Goa.

BJP’s defense

A number of Bhartiya Janta Party leaders rushed to the defense of film and the filmmaker with Amit Malviya comparing Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s condemnation of ‘The Kashmir Files’ to the denial of Holocaust, the killing of millions of Jews by Hitler’s regime.

The party’s IT department head said, “For the longest time, people even denied the Holocaust and called Schindler’s List a propaganda, just like some are doing to Kashmir Files. Truth eventually triumphs, no matter what.”

He noted that the Israeli ambassador has responded to Lapid’s criticism of ‘The Kashmir Files’, a movie that highlights the violence and sufferings inflicted on Kashmiri Pandits after militancy erupted in the Valley.

Israeli filmmaker Lapid, the jury head of the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), had on Monday described the film as “propaganda” and “vulgar”.

In Jammu and Kashmir, BJP chief Ravinder Raina said Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s remarks on ‘The Kashmir Files’ reflected his lack of knowledge about the ground situation in the Union Territory while filmmaker Ashok Pandit demanded a probe into his appointment.

“He (Lapid) should first visit the camps of displaced Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir. Such remarks are only expected from a person who does not know the ground situation and how people, irrespective of their religion, have suffered because of terrorism,” Raina told reporters on the sidelines of an event.

He said Pakistan-backed terrorism had cost the lives of a lakh people over the past three decades and also triggered the mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits from their homes. Raina added that the film “depicted the true picture of the plight of the victims of terrorism”.

Condemning Lapid’s remarks, Kashmiri Pandit filmmaker and Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association President Ashok Pandit demanded a probe into his selection as chairperson of the international jury.

“He is a supporter of Palestine… his remarks were not just his opinion but the stand of the gang of anti-nationals, left liberals and urban Naxals. He could have spoken about the film and its technicalities but he spoke more as a politician,” Pandit said.

Demanding strict action against those who chose him as chairperson of the international jury, Pandit said Lapid had mocked and made fun of the tragedy of Kashmiri Pandits.

“He is talking about a film which depicted my pain. Denouncing it means that you have given your support to terrorism.” Pandit also said no apology would satisfy him as the damage had been done.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the comments made by Nadav Lapid about the film ‘The Kashmir Files’ were an insult to the “horrors faced by Kashmiri Hindus”.

Sawant was in Gujarat to take part in the BJP’s campaign for the first phase of the Assembly elections scheduled to be held on December 1.

“I condemn the IFFI jury chairman’s statement on ‘The Kashmir Files’. Lapid misused the platform by saying such things. Even the Israeli Ambassador has condemned Lapid’s views and said he had misused the platform,” Sawant told reporters here.

He expressed confidence that the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) will take note of the issue as jury selection had been done by the Central government-controlled body and not the Goa government.

Congress attacks Govt

The Congress attacked the government over Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s criticism of ‘The Kashmir Files’ at IFFI, calling it an “embarrassment” and saying that hate eventually gets called out.

“PM Modi, his govt, BJP, the RW ecosystem feverishly promoted ‘The Kashmir Files’ A movie rejected by International Film Festival Of India. Jury Head Nadav Lapid called it ‘propaganda, vulgar movie – inappropriate for the film festival’,” Congress spokesperson and head of the party’s social media department Supriya Srinate said. “Hate gets called out, eventually,” Srinate said in a tweet late Monday night.

In a tweet on Tuesday, another Congress spokesperson Shama Mohamed said, “International Film Festival Of India Jury President Nadav Lapid calls ‘The Kashmir Files’ vulgar propaganda. In a bid to polarise the people of India, the BJP govt went all out in promoting the movie, resulting in a huge embarrassment for India on the international scale!”

The Kashmir Files

‘The Kashmir Files’, which was released in theatres on March 11, was part of the Indian Panorama Section at IFFI and was screened on November 22.

Written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri and produced by Zee Studios, the film depicts the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir following the killings of people from the community by Pakistan-backed terrorists. It stars Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi among others.

Kher attended the special screening of the film at the 53rd IFFI on November 22. The nine-day-long film gala began on November 20.

 

 

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