'The Kashmir Files' remark: Israel envoy slams IFFI jury chief
The controversial yet popular Bollywood flick The Kashmir Files has again garnered the limelight after the jury chief at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI)—the Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid—called it "vulgar propaganda". His remarks triggered a country-wide row and also invited a sharp reaction for Israel's ambassador to India Naor Gilon, who said Lapid "abused" the invitation and hospitality of India.
Why does this story matter?
- Released in March, The Kashmir Files became a popular film in India and many other countries.
- The film, based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley, also earned huge revenue.
- On the other hand, with its popularity, the film received criticism too for being biased and creating a communal divide in the country.
Abused invitation: Israel envoy to IFFI jury chief
The Israeli ambassador accused Lapid of abusing the Indian's invitation to head the panel of judges as well as their trust, respect, and friendly hospitality in a series of tweets. "In Indian culture, they say a guest is like God. You have abused in the worst way," Gilon wrote in an open letter to Lapid on Twitter.
Insensitive to talk about historic events without knowledge, says Gilon
"I'm no film expert but I do know that it's insensitive and presumptuous to speak about historic events before deeply studying them, and which are an open would in India because many of the involved are still around and paying the price," Gilon added.
Open letter by Israel envoy shared in Twitter
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. Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/8YpSQGMXIR— Naor Gilon (@NaorGilon) November 29, 2022
Filmmaker's comments that triggered controversy
Speaking at the IFFI's closing ceremony, Lapid said he was "shocked" and "disturbed" at the film's selection for the competition. "There were 15 films in the international competition. Fourteen had cinematic qualities and evoked vivid discussions. But, The Kashmir Files felt to us like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival," he said.
IFFI jury board distanced from Lapid's remark
The jury board of the film festival distanced itself from the jury chairman's statements. They describe them as his "personal view." Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Khushbu Sundar expressed gratitude to Gilon. She terms the comments a "balm of consolation." "The grief and trauma represented in the film are not a skewed history, but rather what Kasmiri pundits truly went through," she explained.
BJP leader Khushbhu Sundar expressed gratitude
A BIG thank you Ambassador @NaorGilon . 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 Kasmiri pundits actually went through. Your words act like a balm of comfort. Truly humbled 🙏— KhushbuSundar (@khushsundar) November 29, 2022
A little about The Kashmir Files
Released in March, The Kashmir Files, directed by Vivek Agnihotri, is based on the exodus and killings of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley in the 1990s. It was lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and endorsed by a number of Union Ministers and granted tax-free status in most of the BJP-ruled states. The film was banned in Singapore for the "one-sided portrayal of Muslims."