The Kashmir Files: How the movie, praised by PM Modi, was termed vulgar and how it sparked a fresh divide?

The controversial movie 'The Kashmir Files'  is at the top of the headlines again after the remarks and the row sparked by them have become the talk of the nation. The movie, which got released this March, was centered around the 1990s exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the Indian-administered Kashmir. Helmed by Vivek Agnihotri, The Kashmir Files received praise from the ruling leaders including Prime Minister Modi and from the right-wing outfits while it was slammed for its propaganda.

The latest row started from the remarks made by Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the jury panel at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. Speaking at the closing ceremony of IFFI 2022 on Monday - November 28, Lapid had termed The Kashmir Files as 'vulgar' and a 'propaganda movie'. He further said that the jury was disturbed and shocked to see the movie being screened at the film festival. 

While the ruling Indian leaders had welcomed the movie in the midst of a wave of call to boycott it, the remarks made by Lapid had equally triggered a support and outrage, both were rampant across the country.  The right-wing ideologists have slammed Lapid for his remarks and demanded him to issue an apology. On the other hand, the Indian people who voiced against the movie said that Lapid echoed their views and they also expressed their solidarity to the Israeli filmmaker. 

Many in India accused The Kashmir Files of displaying a distorted narrative around Kashmir by showcasing the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits and belittling the pain endured by Kashmiri Muslims. However, to promote the movie, the BJP ruling states like Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh went on to announce that the movie will be tax-free in their territories. Several pro-Hindutva outfits and campaigners have praised and welcomed the movie.

Now, as an international filmmaker, divulged that the movie is vulgar, his remarks have stirred a divide across the country. Notably, Israeli Ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, came in support of The Kashmir Files and his tweet has been shared by the BJP and right-wing leaders. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Gilon alleged that Lapid was clearly drawing connections between his dislike of Israeli politics and the film. The envoy referred to Lapid's notion on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. 

Taking to Twitter, Gilon wrote, "An open letter to #NadavLapid following his criticism of #KashmirFiles. It’s not in Hebrew because I wanted our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand. It is also relatively long so I’ll give you the bottom line first. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED." In another tweet, Gilon wrote, "You (Lapid) will go back to Israel thinking that you are bold and “made a statement”. We, the representatives of Israel, would stay here. You should see our DM boxes following your “bravery” and what implications it may have on the team under my responsibility." 

"The The friendship between the people and the states of India and Israel is very strong and will survive the damage you have inflicted. As a human being I feel ashamed and want to apologize to our hosts for the bad manner in which we repaid them for their generosity and friendship", Gilon added. Lapid became famous across the country in a day and the people began searching about him. Lapid is often known for raising his voice against oppression and the curb of freedom. 

Following Lapid's remarks, the jury has distanced itself from his remarks after drawing a setback. As Israeli envoy Gilon has come into picture, several leaders are marching to support him and support Lapid. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut supported Lapid and said that The Kashmir Files was politicized and more Kashmiri Pandits were killed after its release. He alleged that the movie was a propaganda by one party against another. 

Raut said, "The film was politicized and the party and the government were busy with the publicity of the film. But the maximum number of killings in Kashmir happened after this film. Kashmiri Pandits and security personnel were killed. After the film, attacks on Kashmiri Pandits increased. Are you going to make part 2 of the movie?." He also urged that some amount of money that the movie has earned must be donated to Kashmiri Pandits. 

Several BJP leaders had strongly opposed Nadav Lapid and thanked ambassador Gilon for condemning his fellow countryman. BJP leader Khushbu took to Twitter and wrote, "A big thank you Ambassador Naor Gilon. Deeply humbled by your support. You speak for every Indian. The pain & trauma depicted in the film is not a display of distorted history but what Kashmiri pandits actually went through. Your words act like a balm of comfort. Truly humbled." Tamil Nadu BJP President Annamalai has also thanked Ambassador Naor Gilon and said that the bond between India and Israel is too strong.