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The Kashmir Files Movie Review

Photo Credit: Instagram

Before we peep into the movie, the political reference goes back to 1947. In the pre-independence era, the ‘Government of India Act 1935’ stated that the princely states can accede to the dominion of India or Pakistan by an Instrument of Accession executed by its ruler.

Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir decided his state to accede to the dominion of India in October 1947 amidst a tribal invasion supported by Pakistan. Apart from that, another prominent leader Sheik Abdullah talked about Azad Kashmir i.e., Kashmir is free from both India and Pakistan. Basically, Maharaja Hari Singh wanted to stay independent and be neither a part of India nor Pakistan but he needed military aid to fight the Pakistani threats and therefore its accession to India but the instrument of accession granted limited access to India in Jammu and Kashmir on matters of defense communication and foreign affairs.

There was also a request for plebiscite about the accession after the situation normalises that never took place.

Further Article 370 of the Indian Constitution had conferred a special power to the state to have a separate constitution, a state flag and then autonomy of internal administration which has now been abrogated and Kashmir is an integral part of India.

In 1990, there was a mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley after thousands were killed and threatened by Islamic militancy backed by Pakistan. Many would term it genocide or a massacre.

Truth is a three-sided affair, good and evil choose a side as per the convenience of the storyteller and the third side is the reality which goes unheard. ‘The Kashmir Files’ is all about this exodus that tried to maintain the three-point of view. It is more like a documentary that depicted the plight of Kashmiri Pandits who left their homes in the valley to become a refugee in their own country.

It is extremely brave of Vivek Agnihotri to make a movie like this and release it as a mainstream cinema in a country like India where radicals keep finding a reason to spread Islamophobia, communalism and hatred. Talking about the propaganda which many ignorant people believe that the movie is spreading, ‘The Kashmir Files’ talks about militancy and terrorism and doesn’t generalise that “Muslims are terrorists”.

There is a line in the movie that says that during the exodus, many moderate Muslims were killed too by the militants who just wanted to spread terrorism and hatred. One must remember that terrorism has no religion and Islam is not shown in a bad light in the movie.

However, it depicted how Islamic “terrorists” cleansed the valley of Hindus which is the hard-hitting reality. If anything shown in the movie had not been true then even after 31 years of that incident and the removal of lows that greatly contributed to that genocide India has no solution to rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandits.

The story of the Kashmiri Pandits is never discussed openly and history textbooks have completely ignored this major incident of the post-independence period. The Kashmir issue has not only been an unresolved and controversial topic but is also a mystery for most of the Indians who never get a reading of what actually the valley has gone through.

Director Vivek Agnihotri must take a bow because of his fabulous work and nerve to do this painstaking research and make such a hard-hitting film that shakes you to your core. The movie is raw and deep and weaves the information in a story that tells nothing but the truth and covers all the aspects of truth.

The movie is not only a saga of the Hindu genocide but also of the atrocities committed against the Jews by Christians in Germany. It is the portrayal of how the Indian Government and its officials lacked the courage to face the reality and how thousands of people remained just a story that was never heard until now.

The movie stars Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Darshan Kumar and Pallavi Joshi in pivotal roles. The plot revolves around Darshan Kumar who is a JNU student who remembers nothing about his childhood. Anupam Kher is his grandfather who has faced ‘The Exodus’ but is a dementia patient. Darshan is brainwashed by Pallavi Joshi who is his professor about the Kashmir issue. But later with the help of Mithun Chakraborty, Prakash Belawadi, Pune Hisar and Atul Shrivastava, he gets to know that truth and decides to tell everyone about it in his own way.

The 15-minute monologue where Darshan speaks his heart out about the Kashmiris is bound to give one goosebump. Here he is not only a voice who seeds to tell the story of his parents in death and the plight of his community but talks about the plight of the entire Kashmir and the enormous torture the valley went through.

The film starts with militants rallying and sloganning to free Kashmir and ends with the recreation of the Nadimarg massacre, slitting of Darshan’s mother and killing every Hindu in the camp.

Anupam Kher delivers a stupendous performance with his realistic Kashmiri tone. Pallavi Joshi who was also a part of her husband’s (Vivek Agnihotri) ‘The Tashkent Files’ (2019) has given a brilliant performance justifying her character completely.

In ‘The Tashkent files’, Vivek had chosen a controversial topic of Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death and now again he picks up the controversial, unheard Kashmiri Pandits’ genocide. He is a man of courage who can shrink heartbeats with the power of his films. The Kashmiri songs used in this film have the power to wet one’s eye who will be nothing but numb after the movie. Vivek Agnihotri will make one crave justice and start their own research to know the truth and unheard stories of Kashmir.

To all the criticism about the film, one can say as Darshan said, ‘Kashmir ka sach itna sach hain ki jhooth hi lagta hain’ (There is so much truth in the reality of Kashmir that it feels like a farce).

Rating: 4.5/5

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