The Kashmir Files Afdah Review (2022), it will be release in OTT platforms in Hindi soon in 480p, 720p, 1080p HD Quality.
|Name||The Kashmir Files|
|Release Date||11 March 2022|
|Running time||170 minutes|
|Directed by||Vivek Agnihotri, Saurabh M. Pandey|
Vivek Agnihotri, the writer-director, once told us a Hate Story. This week, he has added another. The Kashmir Files is like a docudrama that traces the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s. It’s essentially a battle between narratives. Agnihotri has steadfastly supported one version. It presents a different view of the Kashmir issue.
The Kashmir Files Afdah Review (2022)
Although the Kashmiri Pandits’ pain should be shared in popular culture, it deserves a more nuanced and objective approach than the ‘us against them’ worldview Agnihotri propagated for over 170 minutes.
Based on the testimony of people who were scarred by the State’s insurgency, the film presents the tragedy of exodus as a genocide. This was done to protect the government, the media and the ‘intellectual lobby’ from their vested interests.
Agnihotri has improved on the form he used in The Tashkent Files. There he presented his view on the death of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri through flashbacks and memories, with the narrative moving backwards and forwards in time.
Krishna (Darshan) is a Kashmiri Pandit who is also a student at a premier university. Radhika Menon (Pallavi Joshi), his liberal teacher, has taught him to believe that Kashmir’s secessionist movement is similar to India’s Freedom Movement.
Krishna’s grandfather Pushkar Nath (Anupam Karer) passes away. He returns to Kashmir with his ashes, and he meets four of his grandfathers’ friends, who tell Krishna and the audience the “real” story of Kashmir. According to their story, Kashmir was a battle of civilisations. The State and central government left the Pandits to die in order to please one community. Bitta is the villain, who looks like a mix of Yasin Malik and Ghulam Mohammad Dar, real-life terrorists from Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front.
Agnihotri is not interested in romance in the Valley, unlike Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s films about the subject. The film is more like a rejoinder for Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider. It tries to suggest to Kashmiri Muslims that they deserve to suffer after the suffering they caused to the Pandits, and other minorities.
It is a disturbing look that grips at you in every turn. With brutal intensity, the scenes of torture and bloodshed as well as otherization of Pandits were filmed. The performances and dark valley are captured by the camerawork.
Kher, the conscience keeper for the film is at his best rhetorically. Darshan is a revelation, and it’s great to see Pallavi back. As friends of Pushkar Nath, Mithun Chakraborty and Prakash Belawadi as well as Puneet Issar and Atul Shrivastava, they sound convincing.
The film, which accuses foreign media of creating unrest through clickbait headlines and choreographed unrest, eventually falls for the same exploitative methods used to reach out to tears and provoke animosity. It is difficult to grasp what happens when the majority becomes minority and vice versa. It is obvious that the moderate Muslim voice is absent. The representation of educated elites is shallow, and borders on easy character assassination.
Although some dialogues offer hope that Agnihotri might address the complex subject, once he begins to promote a religion-based agenda, The Kashmir Files loses focus of its humanistic objective.
It uses the same selective treatment for the period as it did with the players in 1990s.
Agnihotri, like many people in this age of social media, sees the past through the lens of today. A lot of dinner table conversations make it into the screenplay. He doesn’t accept any compromises, and he chooses the right instances from history to fit his story. He speaks of Sheikh Abdullah but does not mention Raja Hari Singh’s role in the accession of Kashmir and India. He doesn’t mention how the rigged vote led to a bullet culture for Kashmir in the 1980s.
The film minimizes the Pakistan-Afghanistan angle, and places the responsibility for maintaining the insurgency upon the local Muslim. Agnihotri’s documentation shows terror is a religion. It appears that every Kashmiri Muslim has been a separatist who wants to convert Hindus into Islam. Here’s the syllabus on how the Dogra Kings ruled over the State until 1947.
Yes, religious slogans were used, and Kashmir Pandits did get caught up in the conflict between India and Pakistan. But history isn’t as simple as Agnihotri would have us believe.
Names of legends from Kashmir and the contribution they made to history are well-known in oral and written tradition. It is unfair to say that the filmmakers did not get to know them while researching the film.
The film makes selective use of facts by attacking Farooq Abdullah, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and indirectly holding Congress responsible for the exodus. However, it conveniently forgets that the National Front government was in power in January 1990 when the genocide occurred and whose survival was dependent on the support of the Bharatiya Janta Party (and the Left) parties.
He also forgot the party, whose agenda is he consciously or unconsciously perpetuating, was part of the government that he formed with one regional party. The films describe them as being nationalist in Delhi and communalist in Srinagar.
Curiously, the film speaks of justice, but does not include the role of Pandits or the legal battle of Pandits. The fact that Bitta was in prison for more than 20 years and is now free on bail means that he is back behind bars.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry is also being used in the distortion. Hum Dekhenge was written in 1979 and uses traditional Islamic imagery as a metaphor to challenge Pakistani General Zia Ul Haq’s fundamentalist interpretation. He is very close to Advaita Hinduism when he declares “An-al Haq” (I am truth). Film subtly mocks Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a former Prime Minister, for his desire to win people’s hearts. The makers may believe that they can only rule the landmass.
It is possible that the footage will be used in street justice to spread hate and hatred against one community.
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