I watched ‘The Kashmir Files’ a few days back. I wanted to make a video of my thoughts. Finally I made it in Malayalam, but thought in English I will write instead of making a video.
‘The Kashmir Files’ is very disturbing, gripping and unsettling to say the least. And I want to share my thought as I watched the movie. In fact it took me a few days before I could start writing this post because the scenes were running through my mind. I can only imagine the emotions that a Kashmiri Pandit would have watching the movie.
I had never thought I would be watching and reviewing a Vivek Agnihotri movie. I am not a fan of his. I have only attempted and failed watching two of his movies, chocolate and hate story. But that was back when I did not know who he was. I first came to know of him through his tweets and reactions on the political issues in India. And since I did not agree with his views I did not have a reason to watch his films.
That said as a Film Maker Vivek has come a long a way from his Chocolate days. The way the movie has been taken…. the background score.. that silence at times.. the lighting.. the acting.. in all way it is a movie you will not want to miss a beat. The movie is not for the faint hearted. At time you will feel if it has to be shown in this way. But one should understand that during such incidents what happens is always much more scarier than that can be depicted in a movie.
The movie starts with a dedication to all people persecuted across the world and so when you watch the movie you cannot stop thinking of all the people who have been persecuted across the world. The Jews during WW-2.. The Tutsis in Rawanda, the Sikhs in 1984, the muslims of Gujarat in 2002.. The Bosnia war and so on..
What ever be the socio political narratives that you agree or disagree the individuals and families of all persecuted share a common grief which many people like me and you can never fathom. Maybe that is why there are more people commenting on social media without watching the movie.
One side says this is all history and this is the real way to tell the story.. while another side says this is all propaganda. If you have not watched the movie you can take any side of it based on your view of the world. But if you watch the movie you cannot take either side.
I think this is a story that should have been told a long time back the same way many other persecutions have been told. It is sad that it took so long to say. We should all think why it is so..
I am a moderate person and being moderate today is not easy because everyone wants you to be on the extreme, be it left or right. But as a moderate watching a movie like this your thoughts don’t end with the movie.
I think a film maker is a collection of several roles. One is that of a Satyanveshi of searcher of truth, the other is that of a film maker and then you are also the person who has a said political view of the world. You have to watch the movie to see which side of Vivek you see in the film or what stands out.
I was able to see all sides of Vivek as I watched. The film maker who did an excellent job in making a movie that is so gripping. I could also find a satyanveshi in the movie. I could also see the person behind a political stand who is trying to spin his narrative into the story line.
If you have seen the movie you would have felt how the movie did not show the persecution of moderate muslims in Kashmir except for a passing remark in the last monologue. You might also have noticed that there is not a single good muslim in the movie. Does not exist even. Well I should correct that, the first scene where the kid Abdul appears and also he makes a short reentry later in the film. Apart from that there is not even a single good muslim in the movie. This I feel is a deliberate conscious effort and makes the movie spin from ‘the truth’ to ‘Vivek’s political narrative’
You look at any persecutions across the world.. Jews, Gujarat Riots etc… you will find there were well meaning Germans and well-meaning Hindus who helped those who were being persecuted. I think that is something the film makers conveniently omit. And that omission creates at least some audience spiral to various conclusions that will not be good for our society. Especially in the current social and political environment in India.
Another aspect is that the movie is used again as another tool by Vivek to push his narrative about a certain university and his problems with Seculars and Liberals. I think many people do that and Vivek has also done it and so claiming the movie is totally devoid of political agenda and propaganda will be wrong.
As I was watching the movie I was thinking why was such a movie not made before. I remember a movie by Vidhu Vinod Chopra Sjikara that came in 2020. I did not watch the film. I consider Vidhu Vinod to be a far better director than Vivek because I have seen his films. Yet I did not watch Shikara. May be I did not want to watch a love story.
I also feel the promotion my the PM of a country and Tax Free status was unwarranted. But that is my personal thought. All that will just add more othering in our society.
The movie Parzania also came to my mind as I saw The Kashmir Files. I would like the directors of either movie swap and make their versions of these two persecutions. What do you think. Will they be different. I know an extreme left or extreme right person might find it hard to think through. But a moderate person can..
I think you should watch the movie and then comment instead of jumping into conclusions and reactions and word wars on social media. Because one cannot fathom the brutality of any persecution unless it is about us. It is disrespectful to those persecuted if you get into a fight without watching the film.
Coming to respect I want to share a small incident in the theater. I watched the movie in a theater in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had a few young folks sitting next to me as a group. Throughout the movie they were making sounds of alarm and disbelief and so on connecting with what was on screen. But the moment they stepped out it was all laughing and jumping and one person even saying they should have added some dance and song and a love affair and so on.
I was appalled at that reaction because how can one watch a movie like this and not feel silent and lost inside. It took me 4 days to be able to write this because I was trying to understand.. find answers.. rerun it in my mind…. My heart goes to all the people anywhere in the world who have been and are being persecuted. It is also a reminder that we all could be part of the persecuted anytime.
Don’t reject the movie without watching it ! I think we all can find areas to agree and disagree which is needed.