New Delhi: Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the jury at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), slammed the controversial film 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”.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the event in Goa, in the presence of top government ministers including Union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur, Lapid said, “All of them [jury members]” were “disturbed and shocked” to see the film screened at the festival. The annual film festival is organised 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 programme, 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 to openly share these feelings here with you on 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.
Kashmir Files, directed by Vivek Agnihotri and starring Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi, was screened in the “Panorama” section of the festival last week. The film is set against the backdrop of the exodus and targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990.
The Wire has reached out to director Agnihotri, over a message, for his comment on Lapid’s remarks. However, there is no response yet from him. This report will be updated once he responds.
Many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, lavished praise on the movie, its cast and its filmmakers. Most BJP-ruled states waived entertainment tax on the movie. The film incidentally became one of the highest-grossing Hindi films this year.
In May this year, Singapore banned the movie, citing concerns over its “potential to cause enmity between different communities”.
This article was first published on The Wire.