The Kashmir Files Controversy – What Happened at the IFFI Closing Ceremony?

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The 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) closing ceremony on Monday sparked controversy around the Hindi film, The Kashmir Files when the festival jury head Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid described the film as “vulgar” and “propaganda.” During his closing ceremony speech for IFFI 2022, Lapid made comments where he expressed the jury’s shock and termed the selection of a movie like The Kashmir Files for a film festival disturbing.

While speaking at the IFFI 2022 closing ceremony in front of a gathering that had diplomats, ministers and many big names from the film industries around the world, Lapid said, “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.”

The film, The Kashmir Files, has often found itself in the middle of the debates since its release earlier this year. Amid extensive media coverage and controversial word of mouth, the film turned out to be one of the most commercially successful films of the year 2022. As soon as the video of Lapid’s speech was shared on social media, reactions poured in from every corner.

The jury member’s comments didn’t sit right with the cast and crew of the film, The Kashmir Files. From film director Vivek Agnihotri, and producer Pallavi Joshi to lead actors Anupam Kher and Darshan Kumar, all have expressed their disappointment about the incident and slammed the comments made by Lapid. The Chief Minister of Goa, where the event was being held, Pramod Sawant who himself was present at the ceremony also criticised Lapid’s statement.

The Kashmir Files Controversy

Darshan Kumar who can be seen in a pivotal role in the film was visibly upset with the comments. Kumar was quoted in the media, “Everyone has their own individual opinions on anything they see and perceive. But one can’t deny the fact is that The Kashmir files is a film which has depicted the actual plight of Kashmiri pandit community, who are still fighting for justice against the brutal acts of terrorism.”

Actor Anupam Kher also took to Twitter to express his condemnation of the comments made by the IFFI jury member. Kher wrote, “No matter how high the height of the lie is..It is always small in comparison to the truth.”

Amidst the backlash on social media, Israel’s Consul General to Mumbai Kobbi Shoshani distanced himself from the comments made by the Israel director.

The Kashmir Files was screened on November 22, 2022 as a part of the Indian Panorama Section at IFFI. The film, produced by Zee Studios and written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri, goes back to the “exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir following the killings of people from the community by Pakistan-backed terrorists.” The cast includes Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar, Pallavi Joshi and Mithun Chakraborty among others in important roles.

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