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Vivek Agnihotri, Anupam Kher react to IFFI jury head's comments on 'The Kashmir Files'

Lapid made the comment on the closing day of the nine-day event, calling the film  inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of the IFFI
Last Updated 29 November 2022, 06:19 IST

The International Film Festival of India (IFFI) jury head for the international competition section Nadav Lapid's comment on Vivek Agnihotri-directed The Kashmir Files calling it a 'vulgar, propaganda' movie has sparked a controversy. Lapid made the statement on the closing day of the nine-day event, calling the film inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of the festival.

Director Vivek Agnihotri in a cryptic social media post on Tuesday said truth is the most dangerous thing as it can make people lie.

Agnihotri's reaction comes after veteran actor Anupam Kher, who starred in The Kashmir Files, on Tuesday said truth will always trump falsehood.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Kher said, " I dont want to say much, if holocaust is right, the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is right too. This all seems pre-planned as immediately after that the toolkit gang became active. May God give him wisdom. Coming from a community - Jews - who suffered the holocaust, he also pained those people who suffered this tragedy several yrs ago. May the God give him wisdom so that he doesn't use the tragedy of thousands and lakhs of people from the stage to fulfill his agenda."

Lapid had termed The Kashmir Files as 'propaganda movie' and 'vulgar' at the closing ceremony of the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) on Monday night in Goa. He had served as the chairperson of the international competition jury at the IFFI.

"GM. Truth is the most dangerous thing. It can make people lie. #CreativeConsciousness," Agnihotri wrote on Twitter.

Written and directed by Agnihotri and produced by Zee Studios, The Kashmir Files depicts the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir following the killings of people from the community by Pakistan-backed terrorists.

Following its March 11 release, the film was called out for its problematic politics by a section of critics and authors, but it performed exceptionally well at the box office by minting over Rs 330 crore.

The movie had also sparked a debate among political parties after several BJP-ruled states, including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, gave it exemption from entertainment tax.

Kher too took to Twitter to share a series of stills from legendary American filmmaker Steven Spielberg's acclaimed Holocaust drama Schindler's List along with a picture from The Kashmir Files. Schindler's List is the 1993 film which revolved around Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II.

"No matter how big the lie is, it's always smaller than the truth in comparison," the actor, who had attended the special screening of the film at the 53rd IFFI on November 22, wrote.

Also starring Darshan Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi, the film was showcased as part of the Indian Panorama Section at the IFFI.

In his speech at the closing ceremony of the 2022 edition of the film festival, Lapid said he was "disturbed and shocked" to see "The Kashmir Files" being screened at the festival. The event had Kher and Bollywood star Akshay Kumar in attendance.

Lapid while speaking at the closing ceremony had said, "14 out of the 15 films had their cinematic qualities and defaults and evoked vivid discussion. We were all of us disturbed and shocked by the 15th film The Kashmir Files, that felt for us like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival."

Lapid's comments on the movie, one of the most talked about films of the year, sparked a controversy on social media with reactions pouring from various quarters.

Indian film director Sudipto Sen, who was part of the international film jury, distanced himself and other members from Lapid's statement.

"Whatever has been said by IFFI 2022 Jury Chairman Mr Nadav Lapid about the film The Kashmir Files, from the stage of closing ceremony of 53rd IFFI was completely his personal opinion," Sen wrote in a note shared on Twitter.

Sen said he and other jury members Spanish documentary filmmaker Javier Angulo Barturen and French film editor Pascale Chavance "never mentioned anything about our likes or dislikes".

Comments by Lapid were made in his "personal capacity", he stressed.

"As juror, 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 personal capacity - nothing to do with the esteemed jury board," Sen added.

Hate gets called out, eventually, said Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate.

"PM Modi, his govt, BJP, the RW ecosystem feverishly promoted The Kashmir Files. A movie rejected by International Film Festival Of India. Jury Head Nadav Lapid called it ‘propaganda, vulgar movie - inappropriate for the film festival’," Shrinate tweeted.

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi shared a video link of the Israeli filmmaker's speech where he criticised The Kashmir Files.

"A sensitive issue of justice for Kashmiri Pandits was sacrificed at the altar of propaganda. This is a must listen segment at the #IFFIGoa2022," Chaturvedi said.

Actor Swara Bhasker, known for being unabashedly vocal about her opinions, shared a link to the news story about Lapid's remarks at the closing ceremony of the film gala.

"Apparently it's pretty clear to the world .." Bhasker wrote in the caption. Actor-filmmaker Nandita Das simply shared a news report on her Twitter page.

(With inputs from ANI)

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(Published 29 November 2022, 03:24 IST)

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