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The Kashmir Files Is Hardhitting, Unsparing Won’t Let You Look Away

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The  Kashmir Files

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Rating: ***

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The  Kashmir Files  hits home. It in an angry indignant film, sometimes  choking on  its own bile  while  going that  extra  mile to  target the  vile, at other  times failing to  differentiate historical fact from the dramatic interpretation of it(more about that  later).

It’s impossible  to tell  what Agnihotri is  more angry about:  the actual genocide(genocide, not exodus , we are  told repeatedly)  or the  whitewashing-subversion  of  it by the architects  of Indian  history.

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Why is it that  so much literature is  available on  the Jew  holocaust and  not  the Kashmiri Pandits’ genocide?  Director  Vivek Agnihotri loves a  solid conspiracy  theory. He sank  his teeth  in one  earlier in The Taskent  Files, purporting to solve the mystery of the sudden death of Lal Bahadur Shastri during a  visit to Taskent.

That  film was   the sleeper  hit  of 2019.To call  The  Kashmir Files  sleeper  hit would be inappropriate, politically and otherwise. The  growing impact  of  the  film  indicates a  movement rather than a freak occurrence. The  narrative  moving back and forth in  a heaving  lurching motion leaves  us ‘see’ sick.

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Besides  this  film is  too mucha wakeup call  to be a ‘sleeper’ or otherwise.

Agnihotri spares  us  none  of  the  brutality that the  Pandits faced as  they were told to vacate their  homes overnight. Convert, Die  or Leave   became  the slogan for the  pandemic pre-planned pogrom. What the  militants’ massacre aimed at  was  no less than  a cultural  cleansing. Another  slogan , heard repeatedly in the deafeningly defiant  drama is , ‘Without Hindu Men, With  Hindu Women’ which sorrily meant that the  bestial jihadis  wanted to kill the males and impregnate  the women.

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It’s  a vile  deplorable   thought, which any rational mind would reject. Agnihotri  recreates the sheer  madness and  monstrosity of that period ,not letting go of a  single  opportunity  to use  the  sledgehammer effect.

In one early sequence a little  girl hands over a  rose  to  an  Indian army officer who , seconds  later  is ambushed and  gunned down  by  bike-ridden  assassins . Yes, the shock  value is  much valued  here. So  I quickly take you  to the  climactic butchery where  21 Pandits are  shot at pointblank in the centre  of their  foreheads one  after another.

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But my question to Agnihotri is :why the  numbers? Why is the narrative  so taken up with  how many were  massacred? If you repudiate  the  statistics  put out by  the  Government  on  how few  were  killed, then your ‘authentic’ numbers  too are  open to debate.

The  Kashmir Files would  have worked better  if it had steered away from  inducing horror and  disgust through numbers. The  idea  that the film puts forward—of an entire creed being annihilated  by fundamentalists—is so crushing in  its implications that numbers  cease  to matter.

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What  really counts is  the impressive credibility Agnihotri brings to the polemical drama.

There are   long  passages  of history-deconstructing   conversations on the  genocide among four  old friends played  by  Mithun Chakraborty, Prakash Belawadi, Puneet Issar and  Atul Shrivastava,the last-named   latter embodying the  ‘press-titute’ line  of  thought so  popular among a section of the Indian right-wingers who  conveniently  pin the blame  for historical disinformation on  the media.

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These closed-door conversations confer an  aura of a chamber-piece  on  Agnihotri’s  conversational  Kashmiri carpe-diem.It’s only when the narrative steps  out into the action that we  feel the full impact of the  seething rage  that runs through the  narrative’s vital  organs. Anupam Kher, dramatically effective as  a senile Kashmiri pandit who dies fighting for his people’s right to  return home,has  a very moving moment when he  sits nibbling on a biscuit outside his  tent at a refugee camp while in the distance  we hear  the  voice of an old woman singing a Kashmiri song about homsickness.I wish there were more such reined-in moments of anguish.

Pallavi Joshi as  a rabblerousing  academic  inciting notions of azaadi in her  brainwashed students is deliciously  ambivalent. But it is Darshan  Kumar as  a young impressionable third-generation  Kashmiri pandit who steals the show. His pitch-perfect monologue on the  illustrious history  of  Kashniri pundits at the  JNU, sorry, MNU, will be recalled by history.

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I am  not too sure how  how history will judge The  Kashmir Files. It will depend on who  is in power on  judgement day.

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Aamir Khan’s Sister Plays Shah Rukh’s Mother In Pathaan

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Aamir Khan’s Sister Plays Shah Rukh’s Mother

Ever  since Pathaan released on Wednesday, audiences  have been  curious to know who  is the woman who plays Shah Rukh Khan’s adoptive mother in Afghanistan. The stately lady  with  royal looks is none  other than the late producer  Tahir Hussain’s daughter and  Aamir Khan’s elder  sister Nikhat Khan.

 Nikhat has been  closely  associated with the  film industry  and has helped her father in the production of his  films like Dulha Bikta Hai and  Tum Mere  Ho.

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Nikhat has  acted earlier in the Akshay Kumar starrer Mission Mangal ,  Ajay Devgan’s Tanhaji and  in Sandh Ki Aankh(as a Maharani).

For Pathaan, it was Shah Rukh Khan who suggested Nikhat Khan should play his foster-mother in  Afghanistan who names him ‘Pathaan’. It proved to be  an inspired  piece of casting, as  audience have  loved Nikhat  Khan’s cameo.

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It is  heartwarming that  all three Khan superstars  are  associated with Pathaan in one  way  or the other.

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Anurag Kashyap’s New Film Is About Love Jihad

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Love Jihad, whatever  that means, is  the theme  of  Anurag Kashyap’s new film Almost Pyaar  With D  J Mohabbat.

Debutant Karan  Mehta plays a Muslim boy  in an intense relationship with  Alaya F who plays  a Hindu  girl.Kashyap has spared the  audience none of the ugliness that  such a relationship generates  among  social-media  bouncers, the self-styled  guardian of morality .

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In the hardhitting powerful and pertinent film  a  bigot is heard commenting snidely, “These people first talk about Mohabbat. Then  they talk about Mohammed.”

Happily and  surprisingly,  the Central Board Of Film Certification gave the  film a ‘UA’ certificate  with no  cuts: a  rare non-‘A’ film of Kashyap.

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So far  Kashyap and his  team have kept the Love Jihad part  of  the plot  out of all media interaction.

But the  cat is  now  out of the bag.

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Samantha Ruth Prabhu to Star Alongside Varun Dhawan in Prime Video’s Indian Original Series , Samantha Speaks

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Samantha Ruth Prabhu

Samantha Ruth Prabhu will be starring alongside Varun Dhawan in the Indian installment of the Citadel universe, the global-event series from Prime Video and the Russo Brothers’ AGBO. The untitled Citadel series based out of India is being helmed by renowned creator duo Raj & DK (Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK), who are the showrunners and directors.

 The local installment is written by Sita R. Menon, along with Raj & DK. The streaming service also confirmed that the production is currently underway in Mumbai. After this, the unit will head  to North India and then onwards to international locales like Serbia and South Africa.

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  Richard Madden (Bodyguard) and Priyanka Chopra Jonas will star in the first-to-launch series within the Citadel universe, which comes from the Russo Brothers’ AGBO along with David Weil (Hunters) and is set to premiere in 2023. Alongside Madden and Chopra Jonas, the first-to-launch Citadel series will also feature Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games saga). Additional local-language Citadel productions are also in the works, including an Italian Original series starring Matilda De Angelis (The Undoing).

  Speaking on  her participation in  The Citadel  franchise for  the  first time,Samantha says, “When Prime Video and Raj & DK approached me with this project, I decided to take it up in a heartbeat! After working with this team on The Family Man, it is homecoming for me.The Citadel universe, the interconnected storylines between the productions across the globe, and most importantly, the script of the Indian installment really excited me.”

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   Samantha  says she is  looking forward  to working with Varun Dhawan  .  “I am thrilled to be a part of this brilliant universe conceptualised by the Russo Brothers. I am also looking forward to be working with Varun for the first time, on this project. He is someone who is full of life and cheer when you’re around him.”

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Bollywood’s Achche Din Have Come

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 Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar

All you doomsday  prophets, the  booms-day  profits  are here.  Pathaan  has  opened the floodgates again for Bollywood’s  bumper  bonanza at the  boxoffice.And now there is  only the achche din ahead  for  Hindi  cinema.

In the  next   two months there are  three sureshot  blockbusters coming up, beginning with Shehzada.  An astute devilishly impish  adaptation  of  Allu Arjun’s  2020 Telugu   blockbuster  Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.The super-popular Kartik  Aaryan gives  his own  spin to the  character. This  performance will take   Kartik to the  next level of stardom. Kartik’s version of  Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is  radically different  from  its Telugu  version. Shehzada  takes  the core idea of  the Telugu original  and turns it into a  something  completely different. Kartik’s  co-star in Shehzada  is  Kriti  Sanon with whom he earlier shared superhit space in Lukka Chuppi.

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 Then there  is Luv Ranjan’s ravishing rom-com   Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar. The director’s   male viewpoint on the chaos  of love relationships  crests to a comic  high in his latest. Ranjan  for  the first time, collaborates with Ranbir Kapoor for the  first time  collaborates with Shraddha  Kapoor  who badly needs a hit.This film should do the  trick. The winsome  lead pair tries  to do one  another  in a  game of Luv This is Luv Ranjan’s Hum…Aapke Hain Con. Ranjan  has in the past used  the romcom  space to  entertain his audience  to the hilt, he  says this  time the stakes are different. It is  not something we’ve seen before.

 Finally  it is   Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani.  Karan  Johar’s first directorial in six years(not counting the one segment each  in Ghost Stories and  Lust Stories). This time he has assembled a dream star-cast  of Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Ranveer Singh and  the  boxoffice darling(s) Alia Bhatt.  But trust me, this one is  not about assembling stars  into a complacent plot. The writing in this  zany Romeo & Juliet is so crisp  and engrossing, the experience  is  likely to be   the visual version of a multi-flavour icrecream cone. Colour, choler and karma collide in this tragic-comic love story . Let the  box office dhamaka  begin  from the house  of Dharma.

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