Kashmir Files : Short Review

I was pleasantly surprised by how effective the movie was in conveying what it started out doing. I had a very low bar after Tashkent files. Some would take umbrage to the Loud direction at times. Personally I think that was vivek agnihotri’s choice and overall the Loudness has the desired effect. Having seen more gory scenes in Visual medium and read more graphic details about Kashmir Pandit I did think the violence was NOT overdone though Loud at times. Rather some of the more ghastly things documented were not shown. RAPE which was common and effective tool used by Kashmiri Islamists to scare Pandits wasnt depicted in the movie. Anupam kher shines, among his finest performances. I even liked Mithun’s role. Darshan Kumar also pulled through on a tough role (though with glitches).

Overall acting is just above average — especially by actors in crucial moments in the film which somehow let me down — especially during the final monologue. It could’ve packed more punch with a flawless monologue like that of Kay Kay from Gulaal but it didn’t.

As a result I didnt get emotional watching the movie (except maybe the Biscuit scene by Anupam Kher) while I had shed some tears while reading Pandita’s moving memoir. To the readers, I would still recommend Pandita’s book over this movie but this movie will reach places which a book could never do. Book Review: Our moon has blood clots | by Gaurav Lele | Medium

Sad that a fine mind like Pandita has not *yet talked about the impact of the film (probably due to history with the director).

But most importantly the movie does what only a movie can (not books or newspapers or even podcasts). So it’s a very necessary counter weight movie especially in company of Haider and Mission Kashmir. The criticism I had watching was the absence of positive Kashmiri Muslim characters who helped Pandits risking their lives (though the final monologue makes that point along with many other nuances). Personally I think that’s not fair depiction but award winner “Haider” didn’t have a single positive Pro India character — all Kashmiris who were pro India were corrupt — so maybe judging Kashmir files with that level of harshness itself isn’t fair.

In that space #KashmirFiles corrects a lot of narrative around the Kashmir in general in Pop culture and also tells the stories of the Kashmiri Hindus with focus solely on their plight.

There are some errors and unbelievable plot points. The characters (5 dinner table characters) appear half baked and under acted at times. In many places multiple character arcs are fused into a single character which leaves things undercooked.

I also felt the #Article370 part is overplayed and made simplistic and dumbed down. That part almost feels like propaganda for current BJP government. Ofcourse it’s part of story so that’s fine in a story. #KashmirFiles

Personally I felt the multiple Amarnath killings should have also been part of the film — whose aim was to further prevent any attempts to lay claim to Hindu legacy of Kashmir. But @vivekagnihotri can’t get it all inside the movie.

JNU is naturally shown caricaturish — but frankly I care far more about Kashmiri Muslim caricature than JNU caricature. Also don’t think the bright minds of Azadi in JNU would be seed any space in one monologue :). But maybe that was wishful thinking by director. The use of CAA protest fame song — Hum Dekhenge is at times not loud but effective nonetheless.

In summary the movie shifts the Pop Culture pendulum on Kashmir to its end powerfully (probably overcompensates a bit), but is no means is it a complete film — its a message meant primarily to highlight the plight of the Kashmiri Hindu community. But it does so (with exception of the final monologue) making a caricature of Kashmiri Muslims as either fanatics or cowards when there have been documented instances of Kashmiri Muslims risking their lives for India in general and Pandits in particular. But that is what you get when the only person willing to voice this issue honestly is Vivek Agnihotri — when Bollywood in 30 years came up with ZERO films on this tragedy and what they managed at last was the PC and poorly made Shikara. In that context you have to not only live with Kashmir Files but somewhat embrace its core message.

Kashmir files uses a lot of Hindu imagery and symbolism — sometimes subtly sometimes overtly. I felt the use of Shiv makeup Anupam Kher was deliberate — especially in the light of retrospective offense taken by newly aware(woke?) Hindus about the Shiv scene from PK.

#KashmirFiles has started a conversation and hopefully later entries in the debate will add more nuance which is missing in the movie.

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Skeptic | Wildlife enthusiast | Aspiring writer | Potterhead

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Gaurav Lele

Gaurav Lele

Skeptic | Wildlife enthusiast | Aspiring writer | Potterhead

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