Movie Review|  Kashmir Files, A limp attempt at provocation

In 1989-1990, amid a rising insurgency, the demographically-disadvantaged Kashmiri Pandit community in the Valley came under threat.

Published: 12th March 2022 07:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th March 2022 07:47 AM   |  A+A-

Poster of the film 'The Kashmir Files'. (Photo | Vivek Agnihotri Twitter)

Poster of the film 'The Kashmir Files'. (Photo | Vivek Agnihotri Twitter)

Express News Service

In 1989-1990, amid a rising insurgency, the demographically-disadvantaged Kashmiri Pandit community in the Valley came under threat. As violence and persecution rose, lakhs of them fled their homes to settle in refugee camps.

For over 30 years, they lived in exile, with successive governments doing little for their resettlement. Their cause is raised in political debates and is often left at that. And now another atrocity is visited upon them in the form of a Vivek Agnihotri film about the exodus.

Vivek’s last film, The Tashkent Files, was a conspiracy thriller, culled from vague literature paraded as ground-breaking truths. His latest, The Kashmir Files, opens with an acknowledgment: the film, we’re told, is based on video testimonies of actual Kashmiri Pandit victims.

Attached to this is the disclaimer that the film, set between the 1980s and present times, intends no disrespect to any community or faith. Both statements are woefully compromised. The Kashmir Files hasn’t the slightest concern for its subject people, gleefully exploiting their trauma and tragedy for cheap rhetoric. And its communal agenda is so brazen it beats most mainline propaganda.

Krishna (Darshan Kumaar) is a college student in Delhi. Persuaded—‘brainwashed’ is the implicit term—by a professor (Pallavi Joshi), Krishna is contesting elections on the ‘Kashmir cause’, unaware of his own family’s past. His parents and elder brother were murdered at the time of the exodus—“genocide,” the film corrects us repeatedly.

When Krishna visits his ancestral home, ostensibly to bury his grandfather’s ashes but also to document the region’s current state, he is faced with inconvenient truths—all packaged in flashbacks and released at a convenient time.  

From the start, Vivek paints Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims in violent opposition. We are shown killings, desecrations, and senseless acts of pillage and abuse. In evoking this bloodlust, the film gives away its own. The violence isn’t contextualized—graphic provocation is all it’s meant to achieve.

It’s true that Kashmiri minorities were historically persecuted, perhaps in more horrid ways than we see onscreen. But the film doesn’t stop at identifying radical insurgents and fundamentalists as the perpetrators. Every Muslim—from a maulvi at a refugee school to the Pandits’ neighbours—is a villain or enabler. When Steven Spielberg made Schindler’s List (1992), he also picked as his protagonist a conscientious German man, whereas there is not a single moderate in The Kashmir Files.

The film operates by a twisted logic. Here’s a typical exchange. Character A: Kashmiri Muslims are persecuted. Character B: But they also killed Pandits. A: That’s not true. B: It’s true. Remove Article 370. The fact that no conflict is unidimensional, that there can be multiple oppressed groups in a region, simply doesn’t dawn on this film. Rather, it conflates everything: sloganeering and activism with terrorism, student politics with national politics, 20th and 21st century Kashmir with ancient Kashmir.

At least The Tashkent Files had a fun mix of characters. Here, Anupam Kher and Mithun Chakraborty lead the old guard (their angry outbursts made me worry if a cardiologist was on call). Darshan Kumaar looks like any Indian boy who’s stuck in a family WhatsApp group, and can’t leave. Pallavi Joshi is least credible as a shifty prof, saying even the simplest of things with a conspiratorial air. The film is most excited when training its gun on intellectuals and journalists—not so when offering actual solutions to the Kashmiri Pandit cause. “The foreign press exploits images of women and children,” we’re told, in a film full of images of women and children. 

The Kashmir Files flips the old commandment: it demands two eyes for one.

The Kashmir Files

  • Cast: Darshan Kumaar, Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi, Puneet Issar
  • Director: Vivek Agnihotri
  • Rating: 1/5

Comments(26)

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  • Rahul

    Not seen the movie but sounds like Mitra has a warped view
    3 months ago reply
  • Pavan

    A review by a complete opposite interest.
    3 months ago reply
  • Shlok Talwalkar

    Totally agree with the review. It was a shitty film.
    3 months ago reply
  • Eggbot

    Ah. Here we have a movie review by an islamist or wannabe islamist.
    3 months ago reply
  • Sreenivas

    The film has truth and this review has lies
    3 months ago reply
  • Rashmi

    What would your review have been if your family was persecuted in the same way! Well the audience review is a slap on your idiotic review. Enjoy you next paid session with a free Burger and coke ! you joke!
    3 months ago reply
  • Monil

    great review newindianexpress! you will get a lot of hate for showing some spine. but don't let these mindless violent fanatics get to you. it is possible that the ED will come knocking on your door and try to trap you in a false case. but don't get bogged down. indians who still have their sanity intact and don't fall for the right wing propaganda look up to you guys. wish the ruling party took their job of governance as seriously as media outlets like you
    3 months ago reply
  • Greatest

    You should only watch Mr.Bean...You are only capable of that..Sorry boy..Ask your mom to feed you
    3 months ago reply
  • Sunanda

    This is just the kind of review that one can expect from a depraved Leftist
    3 months ago reply
  • Kiron Paul

    author trying to be famous
    3 months ago reply
  • akshay bhan

    Review by a kid trying to be famous. Work your way towards an audience.
    3 months ago reply
  • sat

    Whole world is praising the movie and this reviewer has given 1/5 rating... disgusting.
    3 months ago reply
    • Movie serves a purpose

      The world is a mob
      3 months ago reply
  • Animesh

    Wannabe critic review. He points out some supposed hypocrisy in the film but fails to see several of his own in this godawful diatribe. For example
    3 months ago reply
  • Hemant

    You are the only hope for leftist
    3 months ago reply
  • Hari

    I totally disagree with this dishonest and biased review. Just came back after watching the movie and it is a must-watch for every youngster like me. If you don't learn from history
    3 months ago reply
  • SB

    Egg on your face who so ever is the pathetic person who wrote this review.....
    3 months ago reply
  • Madhukar Nikam

    Pathetic review...0/5
    3 months ago reply
  • Joshua Anjda

    "the demographically-disadvantaged Kashmiri Pandit community in the Valley came under threat." This can happen anywhere in India
    3 months ago reply
  • AP

    Mr. Mitra
    3 months ago reply
  • Pratik Das

    Hahaha
    3 months ago reply
  • Manan Shukla

    Ms Mitra: This movie is facts and if you do not believe it happened
    3 months ago reply
  • Sensible Indian

    Why it bothers few people so much when the truth is depicted
    3 months ago reply
  • Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo

    Very insensitive and biased review to please those who are responsible for genocide and ethnic cleansing of Hindu Pandits of Kashmir. It happened with them yesterday
    3 months ago reply
  • Kritika

    No
    3 months ago reply
  • asim raza khan

    such an biased review for an unbaised fact depicting movie.
    3 months ago reply
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