Sadia N Qazi
Cinema industry is a powerful tool to define and manipulate the collective conscious of a society. And the movie industry as massive as Bollywoodis sure to behold its reach to the nook and expanse of its society. Indian film industry has always been biased in portrayal of Muslims. Its movies often stereotype Muslims as extremists and terrorists reining the underworld mafia. It has stooped to a new abyss of darkness with its recent release of a right wing propaganda movie ‘The Kashmir Files’.
Itwas recently showcased at International Film Festival held in Goa wherean Israeli filmmakerwas also among the jury. In an interview he slammed the exhibit of the movie quoting that he “knows how to recognise propaganda disguised as a movie.” He asserted that the movie was pushed into the prestigious festival owing to the political pressure. Israeli filmmaker’s criticism of the movie as ‘vulgar’ and ‘propaganda’ ignited a row and many notables were not happy at such statement. He said many from within Bollywood came up to him to take back his remarks, but he refused.
Since its release the movie is causing quite turmoil in the already stirringIslamophobic India. The movie’s phenomenal success is not for the right reasons. Since its show-time, the internet is breaking with the post movie reactions and extremist incantations. The aftermath ofHindi-language drama filmbased on fictional storyline narrating an exodus of Kashmiri pundits from IIOJ&K has sparked the already existing religious polarization in Indian society. The story of 1990s exodus of pundits is only a distortion of historical facts and nothing else.
The movie is written and directed by Vivek Agnihotri starring veteran actorsMithun Chakraborty, Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar and Pallavi Joshi.The few minutes into the movie and we see Muslims lusting after Hindu women, Muslim kids flaunting Kalashnikovs and insulting Hindu deities, and a Muslim betraying his Hindu friend to support terrorism. There is a scene where an alleged Muslim militant tells a Kashmiri Hindu who wore apparel portraying a Hindu godthat only those who will chant “Allah o Akbar” will be allowed to stay in Indian Occupied Kashmir. The reaction of which in audience was the chants of “Jai Shri Ram”. Even the Muslim children of Kashmir are depicted as brutal and inhumane. The movie is graphical in terms of violence with scenes of Muslims in skullcaps brutally murdering Hindus.
The movie is rated as 18+ due to violence but nowhereis mentioned that it is some sort of documentary. Despite being a fiction, the movie is being perceived and propagated as factual historic account of the exodus; itincites violence against Muslims in general and Kashmiris in particular. The movie was banned in Singapore by their censor board citing that the film’s provoking and one-sided portrayal of Muslims has a potential of disrupting social cohesion and religious harmony.
Historically, in 1990, a large gathering for independence movement was called in Srinagar by Hurriyat leadership. To crush themovement for independence, Governor Jagmohan Malhotra was sent with full authority. He gave bigblow to the movement. Within two months of his appointment he was removed due to atrocities he unleashed against Kashmiri Muslims which was coveredby international media. India had no choice but to oust him. During this period a number of Hindu minority people living in the valley fledaway. During this conflict, 30 to 80 were reportedly killed.So the Kashmir Files movie depicts historically inaccurate and incorrect facts. The movie presents only one sided story with evil motive of sabotaging the freedom movement.
It is notable that despite the reservations and criticism of the few circles from within country, the screening of the movie was elaborated from 600 to 3000 screens. The government gave a tax relief to the movie so that people can buy the movie tickets at cheaper rates. From government offices special relief and time offs are granted to watch the movie. The movie is being aggressively advertised and pushed on social media as well. It is heavily campaigned by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hailed it recommending people to watch it. He appreciated the team of ‘The Kashmir Files’ and said more films like this need to be made to tell the ‘truth’.
Made on a budget of approximately $2m, as of 28 April 2022, the film has grossed more than $39m in India and $5.6m overseas that accumulates to a worldwide gross collection of $45m. These financials are the highest for any Bollywood movie. The movie incited a rage across India. Audiences coming out of the theatres were filled with anger against the Muslims believing what they saw on screen was the actual account of history. Social media was flooded with videos and posts of the hate speech against Muslims and the resolve to avenge the so-called genocide by the Muslims. They were fuelled with hate speech by the Hindutva goons while watching the movie in the cinemas by raising slogans promoting mortal violence against Indian Muslims in general and Kashmiri Muslims in particular. Only recently in Ahmedabad, Gujarat a fanatic group of RSS stopped a mere passerby Muslim Muhammad Adnan and forcibly showed him the movie on their mobile while beating him and torturing him. They called out that all Muslims are responsible for what happened with the Hindu Pundits in 1990s and they are to be made accountable and punished for the deeds. The Muslims are pestered and victimized all over India for being responsible for the massacre that never happened.
For some time, India has been making movies, distorting the factual history, and re-writing their own fictional version of history to malign the Muslims with their character assassination.With the historical revisionism and appalling storytelling,India engulfed in the hatred against the Muslims already surpassed the genocide echelons has descent further into the darkness of racism and violence. A projecting surge in the islamophobic hatred incidents across the Indian states and the aggressive violence against the Muslims is an alarming humanitarian predicament. The circumstances in Kashmir are no different and since the revoke of article 370 in 2019, the valley has been turned into a prison with above the charts atrocious human rights violations. Playing by the hybrid warfare the objective of the movie is to sabotage the freedom movement for the right of self-determination in IIOJK screeningthem as blood thirty fanatics and propagate the Hindutva agenda of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) across India.