“The Kashmir Files” — A Review
This is a review, and not an advertisement or publicity piece of a truly revolutionary film by a truly great nationalist filmmaker. It is revolutionary in the sense that it is for the first time a Hindi film points out the truth in a film depicting modern Indian historical events and the politics behind them. In that sense, even at the risk of it sounding like hyperbole, we can describe Agnihotri as the pioneering Dadasaheb Phalke of Hindu-Hindi-Indian cinema: Hindi cinema in India has always been venomously or subtly (depending on the depictions) anti-Hindu, whenever it addressed political or historical issues — and even when no particular historical or political issues are involved in the storyline (pauranik films perhaps being the only exception) — and Agnihotri is the only fearless, honest and nationalist (in spite of the concerted media trend to brand “nationalist” as a politically regressive word, we, as well as Agnihotri himself, and millions of others, will not see that word in that sense) film-maker who can see the truth and show it without sankoch, hesitation or fear.
As an aside, Hindi cinema has always blatantly distorted the truth/reality in such matters, and no one would ever dream of daring to challenge the narrative of “Hindus-bad, non-Hindus-good,” which has been the mainstay of Indian and particularly the Hindi film industry. Agnihotri himself has often pointed out that he does not consider himself part of this “Bollywood”. Of course, there may have been producer-directors (and not necessarily Hindu ones) who have occasionally dared to show glimpses of the truth in some matters. Watch this video clip from the film “Son of India” by Mehboob Khan, which seems to start out with the usual cliché of the loving Christian padre-nun with the benevolent “yes, my child” facade, but then points out a truth no Hindu film maker of the time would have dared to depict:
In my very first book in 1993, I had described this phenomenon:
“The first stage, the primary stage, is represented by the familiar ‘Hindu-Muslim-Isai’ syndrome. According to this, the Arabic-West-Asian culture of Islam, the Palestinian-European culture of Christianity, and the Indian culture of Hinduism represent the three components of our ‘composite’ Indian culture. (The introduction of the ‘Sikh’ as a fourth angle to this triangle, was a development intended to firmly separate Sikhs from other Hindus and bring them closer to Muslims. That this part of the conspiracy has been a roaring success needs no elaboration here…)
“The ‘Amar-Akbar-Anthony’ brand of film propaganda has always been an indispensable feature of our Film industry. It has served to highlight this ‘composite’ culture, by presenting stereotypes of blatantly West-Asianized Muslims and blatantly Europeanized Christians, insisting all the time on the ‘Indianness’ of these stereotypes….
“In this second stage, the ‘Amar’ aspect of the ‘composite’ culture is slowly diluted and downgraded, and the ‘Akbar’ aspect is glorified and upgraded; hence, the propaganda must, necessarily, be more subtle than the ‘Amar-Akbar-Anthony’ brand of propaganda.
“When two persons meet, in a Hindi film, and one is a Hindu and the other a Muslim, they do not greet one another with namaste or Ram Ram: nor does one say namaste and the other assalam ‘aleykum (nor in fact, do they refrain altogether from formal greetings); both greet each other with adab arz hai or assalam ‘aleykum. When a Hindu, in a Hindi film, is faced with some great affliction, he starts doing the rounds, turn by turn, of a temple, a mosque, and a church, but a Muslim or Christian is never shown finding it necessary to approach other shrines. These are just two of many examples — each subtle by itself, perhaps not even consciously noticed in spite of their repeated occurrence — which, in the cumulative effect, serve to create the intended psychological environment.
“The entertainment media have played no mean role in carrying on this brand of propaganda. The calculated glorification of Urdu, of Lucknow tehzib, of the Mughals, of gazals and qawwalis, etc., and the subtle ridicule of Sanskritized Hindi, has been a basic feature of the Hindi film industry…
“The third stage is the final stage. This is the highest and most refined stage of all. At this stage, every aspect of India’s mainstream culture, which existed in India prior to the arrival of Islamic culture from West Asia, represents ‘communalism’.
“Thus, it is perfectly secular for Indian politicians to don fez caps, visit mosques, perform namāz to clicking cameras, etc. But it is ‘communal’, for them to visit temples, or bow down before Hindu holy men, or to wave ārtīs or break coconuts while inaugurating a function, since the customs of visiting temples, bowing before holy men, waving ārtīs, and breaking coconuts, all existed in India before the arrival of Islam from West Asia.
“This last, and ultimate stage of ‘secularism’ and ‘national integration based on a composite culture’, can be fully comprehended only by the ideologically most advanced sections of Indians — the Leftists.
“When the Ramayana was being shown as a serial on TV, Leftist and progressive artists, led by doughty warriors like A.K. Hangal and Dina Pathak, organized a march in Bombay to protest against this ‘communal’ act of Doordarshan (Rama being a pre-Islamic Indian hero, any serial on him would obviously be a ‘communal’ one). Addressing a rally at the conclusion of the march, Dina Pathak bitterly castigated Doordarshan for showing another ‘communal’ item on its network — a report of the archaeological discovery, by Dr. S.R. Rao, of the remains of ancient Dwarka, under the sea, off the coast of Gujarat (Dwarka, having sunk under the sea long before the birth of Islam, any report on it would obviously be a ‘communal’ one). Need we say more?” (Talageri, 1993, p. 32-34).
Matters have only got progressively worse: with the tightening financial stranglehold of the Muslim Mafia over Bollywood, and the increasing mind-control of unbelievably anti-Hindu leftists (now they would be called Woke leftists) — and also convent school-brainwashed middle class Hindus — over the academia, media, and political discourse, today it is almost unthinkable that any scenario can even be shown where a Hindu, as a Hindu, can be good, and a Muslim, as a Muslim, can be anything but good (if even slightly bad, there are always extenuating circumstances, for which , of course, Hindus are equally always responsible)!
In fact, this film under review, was released on March 11 or 12 – for we are not sure exactly when, because of attempts to stall or ban the film through the intervention of courts. I watched the movie in the afternoon of March 12 at the Roxy theatre in South Mumbai, with the specific intention of writing a review of it. My brother had made the mistake of watching the film “Gangubai Kathiawadi” in the morning and got so fed up with it that he left the film mid-way, but with such a headache that he could not join me to go see “The Kashmir Files“. So, I took my Muslim friend along with me! The point is that the film my brother saw apparently contained the usual political trash, with corrupt and villainous Hindu policemen contrasted with Muslim gangsters with (soft) hearts of gold!
In any case, I saw “The Kashmir Files”, and, like so many people who saw it, with tears in my eyes! This pioneering film has many very positive points:
1. It is the first time that the plight of Kashmiri Hindus has been depicted in Hindi films, without offering excuses and extenuating circumstances, and ultimate Hindu responsibility, for their plight.
In fact, the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, or Kashmiri Hindus as a whole, is totally shunned and blanked out in both international as well as Indian political discourse. Thus, elite Indian and Hindu cricketers, for example, who show how overwhelmed they are with emotion and human concern when they “take the knee” for issues like “Black Lives Matter”, care two figs for Kashmiri Hindu lives.
This film, however, minces no words in showing things as they are: the omnipresent and ubiquitous slogans (on walls and posters, and in the mouths of even women and children) of “Indian/Hindu dogs, get out” and “Either convert to Islam, leave the land, or die” and “Hindu men leave Kashmir, and leave the Hindu women for us“; the mullahs spouting hatred against “kafirs” from the pulpits of mosques; even small Muslim children chanting anti-Hindu slogans with hate-filled eyes; the molestations and humiliations and persecution of Hindu women; the stone-throwing and the burning of Hindu vehicles and houses: all these are shown in the film without any camouflage or sugar-coating or excuses.
2. It is also the first time that the leftist gangsters functioning in the academia and in NGOs have been exposed for who they are. The film shows their openly avowed agendas, strategies, and intentions; their heavy funding and their direct connections with the terrorists; their conscious creation of blatantly false “narratives”; the large gangs of brainwashed youth in higher education institutions created through peer pressures; the dancing and singing on streets and in campuses accompanied by raucous cries for “azadi“; the provocative speeches, interspersed with “witty” statements to loud clapping and cheering, etc., in a way which should open the eyes of the most smug and blinkered Hindus. All credit should go to Pallavi Joshi, who has not only effectively played the role of the smug and shameless leftist leader who leads the subversive activities, but who is also the producer of the film.
3. In particular, one of the important positive points of this film is that it shows the supreme importance of documentation. Indians, and Hindus in particular, have always been notoriously remiss in this field. Alberuni, in his Tehrik-e-Hind, noted in 1030 CE that “The Hindus do not pay much attention to the historical order of things, they are very careless in relating the chronological succession of their kings, and when they are pressed for information and are at a loss, not knowing what to say, they invariably take to tale-tellings“. Monier-Williams, in the introduction to his Sanskrit dictionary, tells us: “Scarcely a subject can be named, with the single exception of historiography, not furnishing a greater number of texts, and commentaries, or commentaries on commentaries than any other language of the ancient world“.
Strangely, many Hindus treat this weakness as a sign of Hinduness, and something to be proud of.
This film shows the great power of serious documentation (anyone who has not yet seen the film, and does not like “spoilers”, should stop reading at this point): the brainwashed leftist student protagonist, who is required by the leftist cabal for his propaganda-value as an actual Kashmiri Pandit standing up for “azadi“, refuses to believe the narrations of the Kashmiri Pandit veterans (survivors of the Kashmiri genocide) and berates them for making up stories and working against the interests of Kashmiris. Until he comes across the well-collected and maintained “Kashmir Files”, maintained by the character played by Mithun Chakraborty, containing every single newspaper report and document detailing the events. This transforms the protagonist to such an extent that he gives the most eloquent speech against the “azadi” gangsters to a huge and worked-up stadium full of woke-brainwashed students who, in turn, are transformed into accepting the truth!
(Obviously an exaggerated scenario, and not very likely to take place in this manner in real life. But this is a film, and art must exaggerate to make its point. And the last quarter of the film makes its point very effectively indeed).
So, it is time Hindus started the extremely vital process of systematically analyzing, presenting and broadcasting to the world, past events and history, and documenting in systematic detail all present events for future reference, analysis, and presentation.
Now I come to what seem, or seemed, to me some negative aspects of the film:
1. The color schemes in the film struck me, as soon as the film started in the theatre, as on the dark and gloomy side. This could be argued as being in sync with the tragic and gloomy history being presented in the film, but the first thought was that this was simply in keeping with a trend that I do not like in present-day films and serials:
However, as the film progressed, I became less and less conscious of the color schemes. And, as I realized, perhaps it was not an issue after all. Nevertheless, I know it would be an issue for more shallow viewers: a person who saw the film yesterday told me that he did not like it very much because “it was like a documentary“. But it was meant to be a documentary, the best of its kind, to document the tragedy in Kashmir. I don’t know if this person expected westernized film songs, raunchy “item numbers, and a catchy romantic storyline.
2. The film seemed to show a minimum of gory scenes. Of course, as the Marathi proverb puts it, “shitavarun bhatachi pariksha” (testing the rice dish by testing one cooked grain from it): the whole picture can be understood from the samples shown. I would have preferred that the massacres, killings, molestations, burning of vehicles and houses, shooting of defense personnel, stone throwing by Kashmiri children and youths, etc., could have been shown on a larger scale and with larger casts: after all, the film appropriately and effectively showed a stadium full of left-brainwashed students doing their thing. Cinema is a visual medium, and to some audiences at least the scale and grandeur of presentations make for a greater and deeper impact. The film seemed to revolve around one group of affected Kashmiri Pandits, one truck full of escaping women, one master-terrorist and his goons, one camp full of refugees massacred, two houses (in a scene showing a town full of houses from an aerial view) bursting into flames, etc. Of course, the dialogues pointed out that the thing was taking place on a massive scale, and that more than two hundred thousand or more Hindus had been forced to abandon their properties and flee the land, but the impact of dialogues is not the same as the impact of visual scenes.
3. Another concern that I had was that since so many hundreds of thousands of Hindus became refugees, who had to flee Kashmir abandoning their properties and wealth forever, it cannot be that all of them (however much credit we may give to their education levels, intelligence, skills, perseverance, and luck) came up within a few decades back to a position of upper middle-class luxury. Surely, there must be many refugees living their lives in relatively poor or unhappy circumstances who could also have been depicted in the film. But the film depicts only a handful of them, all living relatively upper middle-class lives!
4. Finally, the one thing in the film that, to put it in Hindi, mujhe khatka, was the unnecessary reference to the present Modi-BJP regime. In the last few years, no-one can talk about any Hindu issue without directly binding it with the Modi-BJP identity. Both the anti-Hindu as well as the pro-Hindu sides compulsively link any and every Hindu issue with the Modi-BJP government.
In this matter, there is a mili-bhagat (the Hindi phrase puts it so succinctly) between the supporters and the leftist opponents of the Modi-BJP government, it is in the interests of both sides to enforce this identity between Hindu issues and the Modi-BJP government.
It reminds me of the scene in Animal Farm where everything is automatically linked with the hallowed leadership: “It had become usual to give Napoleon the credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, “Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days”; or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, “Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!”
Here, in this film, we have it right from the horse’s mouth, from the mouth of the master-terrorist himself when he says (towards the end of the film) that things were better in the times of Nehru and Vajpayee, but that under the present vazir-e-azam (Prime Minister) things have changed drastically and for the worse (for terrorists). This single reference to the present-day political leadership, in a film made to expose the history and plight of the Kashmiri Hindus, made me squirm, and reminded me of the old Nehruvian days when it was mandatory for the most popular Hindi film songs with a political or social or patriotic message to sing the praises of Gandhi and Nehru. Was it necessary?
But, at the same time, I wonder (and I may be one of the few viewers to wonder in this way) whether this was after all a tongue-in-cheek reference. If they had shown the master-terrorist saying this from a prison cell where he was incarcerated for life, or just before he was to be hanged or executed in some way, it would have made sense. But here this master-terrorist, who is shown orchestrating or actually carrying out all the massacres and tortures throughout the film, and in fact is shown freely admitting in a television interview that he killed 20 or 25 or many more people and that he would kill his own brother or mother if necessary in his Islamic cause, says all this from a beautiful house in the most scenic parts of Kashmir where he seems to be living a luxurious life with his henchmen on the banks of a lake, enjoying the choicest Kashmiri cuisine, drinking the best Kashmiri kava, and playing lover to the NGO leaders leading the “azadi” activities in the universities (there is a photo in his house showing him with the character played by Pallavi Joshi, in a flirtatious pose) and host to student-leader delegates such as the protagonist Krishna Pandit. Is this the drastic change being referred to under the present regime?
Has there really been a basic change in the Kashmir situation? In the face of conflicting reports and claims from the powerful propagandists from both sides, it is difficult to say.
In any case, there will be plenty of attacks on this film by the leftist controlled academic and media armies. Small discrepancies of detail in the film will be hunted out to discredit the film and the history it portrays. Arguments of the “It was not only Jews who were killed; some Germans were also killed” type will be bandied about. Kashmiri Pandits, or Hindus as a whole, will be demonized or blamed in strange ways. But thanks to Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri and his team, a real start has been made for the Hindu Cause. Let it not be wasted or sabotaged and let many more people follow in his tracks and expose the truths of the past and of the present.
Note: This review is an edited version of a blog entry by Shrikant Talageri, available at: https://talageri.blogspot.com/2022/03/a-review-of-film-kashmir-files-by-vivek.html
Tags: The Kashmir Files, Hindu, Pandits, Muslims, Kashmir Valley, Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, woke-leftists, Islamist, terrorism, history