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'The Kashmir Files is not an anti-Muslim film'

March 18, 2022 09:18 IST
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'This anti-Muslim narrative is happening only in the minds of those who are always standing on the other side.'

The Kashmir Files has been breaking box office records after it released earlier this month.

The film is not an easy one to watch, as it deals with the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990.

The face of the film, Anupam Kher, looks at the way audiences have received the film and tells Subhash K Jha, "The Kashmir Files has gone way beyond anything that I've done before."

The Kashmir Files is not a film. It is a movement. Have you ever been part of a film that's had such a strong impact?

No, never! I've never seen anything like this.

The Kashmir Files has gone way beyond anything that I've done before.

Mind you, its reach and impact is growing by the day... no, by the hour.

It has opened up wounds that never healed.

An impact like this is not possible for any other film.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

Did you expect such an impact?

No one could have foreseen this.

We knew it would open up a debate, at least we hoped so.

Isske baare mein logon ko pataa hi nahin tha (people just didn't know about the genocide of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits).

When they see the film and are informed about the enormity of the crime, they feel shocked and then they feel guilty.

Funny you mention guilt. I have seen a lot of that happening among those who have watched the film.

This kind of impact is not just rare, it is impossible.

Yeh movement toh aur kabhi ho hi nahin sakta (this cannot happen again).

When Steven Spielberg made Schindler's List, the shock that audiences felt was not that of an unfamiliar historical happening.

People knew about the Jewish Holocaust, not just through history books, but through many brilliant films before Schindler's List.

But where was the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits mentioned? It was hushed up.

After watching the film, 95 percent of the audience tells us, 'Aisa hua tha mujhe toh pataa hi nahi.'

Why do think this atrocity against a whole community was unknown to mankind?

Because it was suppressed by the government machinery, journalists, media, everybody hid it.

Because Kashmiri Pandits were not vote banks.

Are human beings only vote banks in this country?

Aisa nahin hai. Not all of them are like that.

Lekin inhone dabaa ke rakha (they suppressed it).

Sadly, the Kashmiri Pandits were treated that way.

Otherwise you tell me, how was it that the world didn't know about an atrocity of this level?

Five lakh Kashmiri Pandits were rendered homeless overnight.

They were staying as refugees in cities all over India, like Pune, Delhi and Jammu.

They were all round you. Aur aapko pataa nahin hai?

They say there was no Internet in 1990, hence there is no information on the Kashmiri Pandits.

In that case, how does everyone know about the 1984 Sikh riots? And about the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre?

You are no stranger to films that make lasting impact, like Saaraansh.

You can't compare the impact of Saaraansh with The Kashmir Files.

That was the story of one individual's struggle against the system.

This is the story, a true story, of an entire community's planned persecution.

My character in the film represents the community's persecution.

He puts up a brave but futile fight for his homeland.

You are yourself a Kashmiri Pandit and a victim?

From 1990 onwards, I've used various platforms to bring the genocide and eviction of Kashmiri Pandits into the public notice.

But it needed an honest film like The Kashmir Files to validate the atrocity and take it to the world.

The impact is unbelievable.

Pehle main bolta tha yeh sailaab hai, lekin yeh tsunami hai (this is a tsunami).

The film has hit people world over.

They want to know how this holocaust was hidden from them for 32 years.

Sometimes pain brings people closer, rather than happiness.


Why the lack of appreciation from within the film industry?

I don't need it.

Why should I look for validation from anyone?

That's not my concern.

I am not looking for validation from anybody.

A lot of people see The Kashmir Files as an anti-Muslim film.

It is not.

It is anti-terrorism.

Those who have seen the film know this. In the final speech by Darshan Kumar, he says so.

As a Kashmiri Pandit, I know the terrorists targeted Muslims as well as Hindus.

In Pakistan, so many Muslims are killed on a regular basis by terrorists.

And yet, there is a feeling that film is generating strong anti-Muslim sentiments?

It is generating no such thing. Only empathy for what happened to Kashmiri Pandits because they are the victims.

This anti-Muslim narrative is happening only in the minds of those who are always standing on the other side.

Before Kashmir Files, at least seven-eight films on Kashmir have showed the terrorists' point of view.

Whey didn't anyone object to the Kashmiri Hindu's viewpoint being obliterated from these films?

Those makers had their point of view.

(Director) Vivek Agnihotri has his point of view.

I don't want to give any importance to the naysayers.

None of your 500-plus films has made this impact.

Opportunity mile nahin, yaar. This film is very close to my heart.

My own Mama (maternal uncle), who was an overseer in Kashmir... he built a home after saving money his entire life.

Five days after he moved into his new home, he got a letter saying he must vacate his home or die.

He left in a Fiat car with whatever possessions he could take. He died of a broken heart within three years.

Do you think there is a chance that Kashmiri Pandits will get their homes back?

Yes, I hope so.

It may not happen in my lifetime, but I am confident that justice will finally be done to them.

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