The Kashmir Files is directed by Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri and written by the director himself. The story revolves around a journalist (Anupam Kher) who finds about a conspiracy behind the exodus of Hindus from the valley. It’s an emotional film that depicts how Kashmiri Pandits became victimised with their own countrymen as well as authorities.
The Kashmir Files – Overview
“The Kashmir Files” is a compelling and powerful characterization of the ethnic cleansing of Pandits from the Valley of Kashmir. The film, which highlights the anguish, trauma and unmitigated suffering of a community at the hands of Islamic fanatics is truly a must-see for everyone who believes in communal harmony and peaceful co-existence.
|Directed by||Vivek Agnihotri|
|Written by||Vivek Agnihotri, Saurabh M. Pandey|
|Produced by||Tej Narayan Agarwal, Abhishek Agarwal, Pallavi JoshiVivek Agnihotri|
|Starring||Mithun Chakraborty, Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar, Pallavi Joshi, Chinmay Mandlekar, Prakash Belawadi, Puneet Issar|
|Edited by||Shankh Rajadhyaksha|
|Music by||Score: Rohit Sharma Songs: Swapnil Bandodkar|
|Production companies||Zee Studios Abhishek Agarwal Arts|
|Distributed by||Zee Studios|
|Release date||11 March 2022|
|Running time||170 minutes|
|Box office||est. ₹60.20 crore|
The Kashmir Files – Plot
The Kashmir Files movie revolves around several violent events during the 1990’s Kashmir Insurgency. The movie begins in the turbulent period just before 1990, when the militants are spreading fear among the Kashmiri Hindu community with the slogans of “Raliv, Galiv ya Chaliv” which means “Convert, Leave or Die”. They reach Pushkar Nath’s house and shoot his son who is hiding in a rice container.
Pushkar and his daughter-in-law Sharda beg for mercy. Militant commander Farooq Malik Bitta, a former student of Pushkar, forces Sharda to eat the blood soaked rice in exchange for their lives. A few years later, Sharda and her elder son, Shiva, are also killed.
Sharda’s younger son Krishna is brought up by Pushkar. Krishna is told that his parents had died in an accident. A student at ANU, Krishna is under the influence of professor Radhika Menon who believes in the “Kashmir cause”. Pushkar has four friends—civil servant Brahma Dutt, doctor Mahesh Kumar, police officer Hari Narain and journalist Vishnu Ram. All four of them served in Kashmir when Pushkar’s son was killed. They recall the events of Kashmir from their memory which Brahma calls a “genocide.”
Pushkar requests Brahma Dutt for his son’s protection, who was accused of being an Indian spy. Brahma travels with him to Kashmir, and sees the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. He takes up the issue with J&K’s chief minister who suspends Brahma. When his son is shot, Pushkar requests Mahesh to save his son’s life but his hospital is taken over by militants who forbid the hospital staff from treating non-Muslims. Vishnu takes Pushkar and his family to Kaul, a Hindu poet who maintains a cordial relationship with Muslims.
Kaul takes in many Pandits into his home but a group of militants arrive to pick up him and his son in the guise of offering protection. The rest of them leave the place but are shocked to see their dead bodies hanged on trees. The refugees settle in Jammu, living on meagre ration and harmful conditions. Brahma is appointed as an advisor to the new Governor of J&K. On his request, the Home Minister visits the Jammu camps where Pushkar demands the removal of Article 370 and the re-settlement of Kashmiri Pandits. Brahma manages to get Sharda a government job in Nandimarg in Kashmir, and the family moves there.
Back in the present, Krishna is contesting in ANU’s student election. Following the advice of professor Radhika Menon, he targets the Government of India on the issue of Kashmir, much to the anger of Pushkar. Pushkar dies, and Krishna travels to the ancestral home in Kashmir to scatter the ashes per Pushkar’s last wish. Menon asks Krishna to shoot some footage in Kashmir in order to expose the government.
With the help of a contact of Menon’s, Krishna meets Farooq. He accuses Farooq of being responsible for the situation of Pandits but Farooq declares himself to be a new-age Gandhi who is leading a non-violent democratic movement. Farooq claims that the Indian Army killed Krishna’s mother and brother. When Krishna questions Brahma Dutt about the claim, Brahma hands him a collection of newspaper cuttings made by Pushkar which say that militants disguised as Indian Army soldiers killed them.
Some time after Pushkar’s family settled in Nadimarg, a group of militants headed by Farooq dress up as Indian Army and round up the remaining Pandits there. Sharda resists when they get hold of Shiva. Angry Farooq strips her and saws her body in half. He lines up the remaining and shoots them into a mass grave. Pushkar is spared to spread the word of what happened.
Krishna returns to Delhi and gives a long speech about the history of Kashmir, giving his perspective on the situation of Kashmiri Pandits. His speech is met with both resistance and support.
The Kashmir Files – Political messaging and historical accuracy
The film’s producer of Kashmir Files Vivek Agnihotri claims the film to be depiction of the “truth of Kashmir”. Its key message is that what is known as the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is actually a “genocide”.
The film is seen depicting the Jawaharlal Nehru University as an anti-national, terror-friendly institution. The Article 370 of the Constitution that granted a nominally autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, is named as one of the reasons for the displacement of the Kashmiri Pandits. Blame is also attached to the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, and the Kashmiri-origin central home minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (while the serving prime minister V. P. Singh and the Bharatiya Janata Party that supported his government are absolved of responsibility).
The central character Krishna Pandit is shown as turning against the present day prime minister Narendra Modi due to the influence of terrorists. The former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is also subtly derided for attempting to win the hearts of Kashmiris.
The film focuses exclusively on the killings of Kashmiri Hindus in 1990 and afterwards whereas Kashmiri Muslims were also killed during the insurgency (in greater numbers in fact). Film faced charges of historical revisionism and unnuanced storytelling, in what many deem a ploy to foster prejudice against Muslims. The exclusive focus on violence of Muslims on Hindus is seen to be promoting Islamophobia.
A Kashmiri terrorist named Farooq Malik Bitta is depicted in the movie, fashioned after Farooq Ahmed Dar (“Bitta Karate”) and Yasin Malik rolled into one. But he is also shown as being involved in the 2003 Nadimarg massacre, which was not Dar’s doing. Krishna’s mother, fashioned after Mrs. Ganjoo, is shown to have been killed in this massacre, which was not the case in real life. Neither are the facts of Bitta Karate’s conviction and long years of incarceration mentioned.