The genocide of Kashmiri Pandits in the late 1980s and the early 1990s remains one of the most brutal events in the history of independent India.
We have had several films based on the tragic chapter in the past. Now, The Kashmir Files adds itself to the list of creations promising to be a true affair of the mass exodus.
For several reasons, the film remains a point of contention in both the political and public eyes. Some have huge expectations, hoping to see the accurate portrayal of the gruesome attack on the Hindu minorities of Kashmir.
However, others believe The Kashmir Files to be nothing else but part of bigger political propaganda.
I gave it a lot of thought in the run-up to reviewing this film. Before getting into the theatre, my plan was to stray from the political angle and focus on the cinematography aspects. But by the time curtains fell on The Kashmir Files, I knew that was not possible.
Here’s a review summary of the film.
The Kashmir Files Review Summary
Undoubtedly, the film is high on emotions. It is heart-wrenching, troubling to the eyes, and hard to witness. Thanks to the no-holds-barred expression of events, even a stone-hearted man would leave the cinema hall teary-eyed.
Any praise is less for the creators who managed to arouse mammoth emotions from the audience. However, truth being truth, The Kashmir Files contradicts itself on several occasions and is filled with intermittent political propaganda.
The makers have sprinkled the movie with an unnecessary political narrative in a subtle manner. There’s no doubt the film is a winner (for the masses), and the audience will love it, but the fallacy of The Kashmir Files lies in the fact that it is the victim of its own narration.
The Kashmir Files Synopsis
Directed by Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri, it follows the journey of Pushkar Nath Pandit (Anupam Kher), whose life is turned upside down by the gruesome genocide committed by terrorists hell-bent on making Kashmir a part of Pakistan. Almost his entire family is destroyed, and he is forced to leave his homeland.
Years later, his grandson, Krishna Pandit (Darshan Kumar), visits Kashmir after Pushkar’s death. There, he meets some of his grandfather’s old friends who narrate to him the incidents of 1989-1990.
The film shows the intellectual transformation of Krishna Pandit with regards to the three-decade-old genocide.
What works for The Kashmir Files?
There are several things that work for The Kashmir Files.
As expected, The Kashmir Files bases itself on a robust storyline, the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. It evokes emotions, draws reactions, and stirs you up entirely.
There are numerous instances of brutal killings that destroy your heart and make you doubt humanity. Obviously, terrorists are utterly inhumane and carry no empathy.
Vivek Agnihotri succeeds in building up small stories and stitching them together with the bigger narrative.
The film’s screenplay is almost flawless as it switches between Delhi, Kashmir in 1989-1990, and the present-day Kashmir. You feel hooked to the screen and want to explore the screenplay further.
Well, this is the best part about The Kashmir Files. Every actor has done a phenomenal job, from Anupam Kher to Mithun Chakraborty and Darshan Kumar.
How often have we seen Anupam Kher act and said that it was his best performance? He is an unblemished pillar of acting and has his own style of delivering magic on screen.
People would say this was his best act but believe me, the man will come up again and throw another masterpiece at us.
Mithun Chakraborty, who plays an IAS officer, is another stainless actor. He is calm from the outset, but you never know when the brewing volcano inside him will burst.
Darshan Kumar makes up for an honest act. However, there are times you’d feel he was a bit short on intricacies, but overall, Darshan works well. I genuinely hope to see him more and more on the big screen.
Everyone else, including kids and those with minor roles, are incredible. They do what is asked of them and deliver a collective performance.
Raw and Blunt
Yes, The Kashmir Files is raw and blunt. It doesn’t hold back from making direct accusations and ensures there is no creative diplomacy. Agnihotri might have some political backing, but still, it takes courage to put up something like this on the screen.
What doesn’t work for The Kashmir Files?
Having several pluses does not mean a product is infallible. A deep look at the insides of this Anupam Kher starrer makes you understand how smartly the director creates a narrative of hate in the present times.
This is a technical point that is usually there when you have the story coming from several points of view. Imagine if A is telling a tale to B, what would he most certainly communicate truly? Obviously, only the things that A has witnessed from his own eyes.
Now, where The Kashmir Files fails is an authentic narration of events. In the film, you would notice A even narrates to B the things he didn’t witness physically. Moreover, there is no genuine source that could possibly allow A to be so vivid and detailed in his narration.
The Kashmir Files draws parallels to the Jawahar Lal Nehru University by creating another institution with a similar acronym. It shows slogans against India being raised inside the University premises.
It handsomely tries to make JNU a villain in the eyes of the people, and that’s not it. The film goes on to diminish the credibility of intellectuals, historians, and international media.
After a point, Vivek seems to be making himself the only bona fide source of the Kashmiri Pandit Genocide.
However, the film does another unexpected thing by showing the “reality” of media houses. It tries to show how the Indian media is corrupting the public by conveying only the half-truth.
There is a scene when a character says, “Those chanting the ‘Azadi’ slogan are terrorists.” It shows how inaccurate the makers were while researching.
In all honesty, The Kashmir Files tells a one-sided tale. By that, I don’t mean there was another side to the genocide. Obviously, Kashmiri Pandits had no fault of theirs and were innocent targets of religious barbarism.
What I mean is the film doesn’t show even a pinch of positive things about Muslims. It only carries hate throughout. Was there not even one Muslim against the brutal genocide? Were all Muslims the torch-bearers of the genocide? Lastly, are all Muslims terrorists? Going by the vision of Vivek Agnihotri, unfortunately, the answer is Ayes!
And that is why I won’t consider The Kashmir Files an incredibly outstanding film. It stands up for the cause but fails in being holistic.
Several scenes in the film seem half-hearted, leading to the script contradicting itself. The film talks about injustice but fails to decipher if injustice is only limited to the preferences of the people.
It marks certain things that are justified and others that are not, according to the makers’ beliefs. Further, it wants the state to be blamed only according to its convenience.
For example, the writer wants to blame the state for the inaction in 1989-90, but he wants to praise the current rulers.
Undoubtedly, the abrogation of Article 370 was a step in the right direction, as shown in the film. However, saying everything is resolved after its abrogation is nothing but lying on the face of the general public.
The restoration of Kashmiri Pandits into their homeland is still a lengthy task, and a simple acknowledgment of the same in The Kashmir Files would have been appreciated.
Who is Pushkar Nath Pandit? Is he a real person?
No, Pushkar Nath Pandit is not a real person. He is a fictional character played by Anupam Kher in The Kashmir Files.
Is the Kashmir Files Real?
The Kashmir Files is a fictional take on real events. In simple terms, it is a cinematic portrayal of the brutal genocide of Kashmiri Pandits.