The 53rd International Film Festival of India or IFFI Jury head’s remarks on the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ have triggered a stir.
Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who headed the IFFI jury, called Vivek Agnihotri’s directorial a “propaganda” and a “vulgar movie” in Goa last evening.
Actor Anupam Kher, who played a protagonist in the movie, called the criticism of ‘The Kashmir Files’ at the film festival “pre-planned” and accused Mr Lapid of being insensitive towards the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits.
Mr Kher, addressing the media with Israel’s consul general Kobbi Shoshani – who also condemned Mr Lapid’s remarks, said, “If you are a jury member you cannot use words like ‘vulgar or propaganda’. I think it is a vulgar remark by that person, who himself is vulgar and opportunist.”
“To use the platform of IFFI for your own agenda is not only unfortunate, it’s disgusting,” Mr Kher said.
The actor blamed what he called the “toolkit gang” for the whole controversy.
“A reliable source informed me that he was missing from his room throughout the night. This was not the statement he was to give at the closing ceremony of the film festival. What he said was entirely different. This is pre-planned as immediately after his remarks the toolkit gang became active on social media,” he said.
He said it’s shameful for a person from a community (Jews) that suffered the horrors of holocaust to make such offensive remarks on a movie based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.
“The one who does not understand the pain of people of holocaust victims in his country, can’t understand the pain of Kashmiri Pandits,” Mr Kher said.
I as a Kashmiri Pandit reject his remarks, he said.
The actor said Kobbi Shoshani called him up to apologise for Nadav Lapid’s remarks and then came to meet him.
“That was Nadav Lapid’s personal opinion, it has nothing to do with State of Israel. We don’t accept it,” Mr Shoshani told media.
Mr Kher last night shared images from “The Kashmir Files” and the movie “Schindler’s List” on Twitter. “Schindler List” is a movie based on the holocaust.
झूट का क़द कितना भी ऊँचा क्यों ना हो..
सत्य के मुक़ाबले में हमेशा छोटा ही होता है.. pic.twitter.com/OfOiFgkKtD
— Anupam Kher (@AnupamPKher) November 28, 2022
Without mentioning Nadav Lapid’s name, Mr Kher wrote, “No matter how big the lie is, it’s always small in comparison to the truth.”
“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,” Mr Lapid had said during his address at the closing ceremony of the film festival.
Israel ambassador to India Naor Gilon also slammed Nadav Lapid for his remarks on “The Kashmir Files”.
In an open letter to Mr Lapid, Mr Gilon wrote, ” In Indian culture they say that a guest is like God. You have abused in the worst way the Indian invitation to chair the panel of judges at @IFFIGoa as well as the trust, respect and warm hospitality they have bestowed on you.”
“The friendship between the people and the states of India and Israel is very strong and will survive the damage you have inflicted. As a human being I feel ashamed and want to apologize to our hosts for the bad manner in which we repaid them for their generosity and friendship,” he wrote.
An open letter to #NadavLapid following his criticism of #KashmirFiles. It’s not in Hebrew because I wanted our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand. It is also relatively long so I’ll give you the bottom line first. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED. Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/8YpSQGMXIR
— Naor Gilon (@NaorGilon) November 29, 2022
The Kashmir Files’ was screened at IFFI on November 22 as a part of the Indian Panorama Section. The movie is based on the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the 1990s.
The jury board of the 53rd International Film Festival in Goa has distanced itself from its head’s remarks on ‘The Kashmir Files’ movie, calling them “completely his personal opinion”.