The 53rd International Film Festival of India ended with some controversial comments on Monday. At the closing ceremony, jury head, Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid criticised Vivek Agnihotri's Hindi film The Kashmir Files on stage, calling it 'propaganda'.
In his address to the audience, Nadav said, "We were, all of us, disturbed and shocked by the 15th film: The Kashmir Files. That felt to us like propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable to share openly these feelings here with you on stage. Since the spirit of having a festival is to accept also a critical discussion which is essential for art and for life."
The Kashmir Files was also screened at the festival last week. Kashmir Files is helmed by Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri. The film, which was released in theatres on March 11, revolves around the killings and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 from the valley. While the film was a hit in India, many have criticised it as well for its alleged propagandist tone.
Singapore even banned the film assessing it to be "beyond" the city-state's film classification guidelines. According to reports, the Singaporean authorities refused classification of the Hindi-language film for "its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the on-going conflict in Kashmir".
The Vivek Agnihotri-directed film stars Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi in lead roles. In India, the movie has been lauded by the ruling camp, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah coming forward to shower praise on the performances and the content. The film was also declared tax-free in most of the BJP-ruled states.