Filmmaker Nadav Lapid, head of the jury at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), slammed the controversial film The Kashmir Files – an official entry at the event – calling it a “propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival”.
The controversial Kashmir Files, laced heavily with the anti-Muslim sentiment, has warranted attention from critics and politicians as they voice their condemnation and air their concerns in the wake of the film’s plot, which is thick with right-wing radical patriotism.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the event in Goa, in the presence of top government ministers, Lapid said, “All of them [jury members]” were “disturbed and shocked” to see the film screened at the festival. The annual film festival is organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals, which is part of the Union ministry of information and broadcasting.
“I’d like to thank the head of the festival and the director of the programming for the cinematic richness of the program, for its diversity, for its complexity. It was intense. We saw seven films in the debutant competition, and 15 films in the international competition — the front window of the festival. 14 out of them had cinematic qualities, defaults and evoked vivid discussions,” said Lapid.
“All of us were disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files. That felt like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable openly sharing these feelings here with you at this stage. In the spirit of this festival, can surely also accept a critical discussion, which is essential for art and life,” Lapid added in his remarks at the event.
After massive backlash, another IFFI jury member Sudipto Sen took to Twitter to clarify a few things. He said that Nadav Lapid’s comments on The Kashmir Files are his personal opinion. He further added that, as a juror, he refrained from making any political comments. One of the jury members and filmmaker Sudipto Sen took to Twitter to clear the air surrounding the controversy.
He wrote, “Whatever has been said by IFFI 2022 Jury Chairman Mr Nadav Lapid about the film, The Kashmir Files, from the stage of the closing ceremony of 53-rd IFFI was completely his personal opinion. In the official presentation of the Jury Board to the Festival Director and in the official Press Conference, where we 4 juries (the fifth jury had to leave for her personal emergency) were present and interacted with the press, we never mentioned anything about our likes or dislikes. Both were our official collective opinion (sic).”
He further added, “As jurors, we are assigned to judge the technical, aesthetic quality, and socio-cultural relevance of a film. We don’t indulge in any kind of political comments on any film and if it is done, it is completely in a personal capacity – nothing to do with the esteemed Jury Board (sic).”
The director of the film, Vivek Agnihotri, since then posted a cryptic tweet hours after his film was termed ‘vulgar propaganda’ by the jury head at the ongoing 53rd International Film Festival of India. Without mentioning the film or the incident, Vivek tweeted about how ‘truth can make people lie’.
Actor Anupam Kher, who played the lead in The Kashmir Files, has responded on jury head’s claims. On Tuesday morning, while speaking to the media, he referred to Lapid and said, “It seems pre-planned as immediately after that the toolkit gang became active.”
He added, “It’s shameful for him to make a statement like this. Jews have suffered Holocaust and he comes from that community. For him to make such a statement, he has also pained those people who have been victims of this tragedy many years ago. May God give him wisdom so that he does not further his agenda on stage using the sufferings of thousands.”
In the late hours of Monday, Ranvir took to Twitter and wrote, “The singling out of a film and the language used to describe it is completely unbecoming of a film jury or critic. It reeks of politics. Cinema has always been the harbinger of truth and change, not an agent to stifle or snuff it. Shameful display of political opportunism at IFFI.”
About The Kashmir Files
The problematic film was released in March of this year and is set in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The story is concocted from the interviews conducted by Agnihotri that form the basis of this fictional drama. The interviews are of first-generation victims of the alleged Kashmir Genocide of the Pandit Community of 1990.
It is important to note that the ethnic cleansing that took place indeed saw lives lost in the region; however, it is vital to point out that the numbers pale in comparison to the 1947 Jammu massacre that tallied at over 200,000 Muslims murdered in cold blood.