FRAGRANCE OF IDEAS
The much awaited Bollywood production, The Kashmir Files, was premiered in India on 4th March 2022. A selected gathering watched it in the multiplex hall at Wave Mall, Narwal Bye pass, Jammu. The cross section gathering of the Jammu city on the occasion included political leaders, social activists, thinkers, writers, intellectuals, senior current and retired civil and police officers of Jammu and Kashmir besides the film makers and the cast of the film. The selected local media representatives were also present on the occasion. The film is due to be released for public viewing on 11th March 2022, globally.
It is a Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri production, known for the film 'The Tashkent Files' directed by him a few years back. The Kashmir Files has a very notable cast that includes the Bollywood & small screen big names like, Mithun Chakravarty, Anupam Kher, Pallavi Joshi, Puneet Issar, Mrinal Dev Kulkarni, Atul Shrivastva and Prakash Belawadi. Besides them there are a number of budding artists in the film who have made an indelible mark. They comprise mainly Bhasha Sumbli, Darshan Kumar and Chinmay Mandlekar who verily have justified their role given to them by their sterling performances.
The film is surely beyond the regular Bollywood film-formula, based upon a story, and mostly a love-story. Infact the film has not been based upon any typical conventional plot. Its story is explicitly based upon video interviews of the first generation victims of the Kashmiri Pandit community in 1990. That provides indeed the blend of authenticity to the content and flow of the film. Since Kashmir and Kashmiri Pandit is a very complex issue for anyone in the world, so there might be possibility of some loopholes here or there in the picture in areas of research and development. In order to overcome those shortcomings, the film maker has wisely avoided certain aspects that could have invited undue criticism and controversy.
Main focus of the film is on the following four key dimensions: failures of the government and administration to tackle the situation when terrorism engulfed Kashmir in 1989-90, tacit connivance of political leadership with the terror module in Kashmir, displacement of the Kashmiri Pandit community, and deep nexus of liberal-secular media and intellectual class with the terrorist regime in Kashmir aimed at to create a false political narrative to keep the truth about Kashmir under the carpet.
The film has a symbolisation-recipe based narration and presentation throughout. The family of Pushkar Nath Pandit (Anupam Kher) represents a common Kashmiri Pandit victim family while Brahm Dutt IAS (Mithun Chakravarti) and DGP Hari Narain (Puneet Issar) symbolise the crippled and helpless civil and police administration of the then state of Jammu and Kashmir. Likewise, Prof. Radhika Menon (Pallavi Joshi) represents liberal-left-secular coterie of India and Vishnu Ram (Atul Shrivasta) aptly acts for the then sold-out media. Dr. Mahesh Kumar's (Prakash Belawadi) role brings forth one of the cruelest modus operandi of the Kashmiri terrorists in medical field.
Sharda Pandit's (Bhasha Sumbli) character symbolises the Kashmiri Pandit womanhood role before, during and after the displacement of KPs besides their pain and resilience both; and Forooq Malik Bitta (Chinmay Mandlekar) and Afzal (Saurav Verma) echoe terror against Pandits and jehad against India. Krishna Pandit (Darshan Kumar) is the third generation victim of terrorism against the Pandits who has neither seen nor been told about the actual situation leading to their displacement from Kashmir. He is oblivious of the realities of the past and is overwhelmed by the liberal and left lobby's ideological narratives till he comes into terms with his unforgettable past of thousands of years of Kashmir including his family being among the first victims of terrorism in Kashmir. He consequently emerges as a hope of Kashmir for future, once he connects himself with the truthful history and real narrative about Kashmir.
The theme of the film revolves around two main narratives, i.e. continuous and consistent failure of the governments and administration to give justice to the Pandit community in and outside the Kashmir valley over the last more than three decades and attempts aimed at to mislead the nation about the real intent of Kashmiri Pandits. The film has a very powerful message for the nation which Pushkar Nath Pandit delivers through his dialogues on a phone call.......i.e, “in case Kashmir is allowed to go the way it has been, it will create more such Kashmirs throughout the length and breadth of India". And his prediction in the reel life comes almost true in the real life.
The Kashmir Files is not a compromise formula, based upon the oft-repeated phrase, 'forget and forgive'. It pinpoints in a very subtle way, without creating any sort of bad blood, the role of individuals and institutions, friends and neighbours, communities and organisations that contributed to the death and destruction in Kashmir. It has also brought into focus the wishes of the Pandit community to abrogate Article 370 believing that it could solve its long pending problems including their resettlement again in Kashmir.
The atrocities committed against minorities after 1990 have also found their place in the film and have a very strong import to convey. Bollywood has a general temptation to bring in sensationalism in films to play its part which this production has generally avoided barring a couple of avoidable scenes. Use of long duration frames generally brings in an element of boredom and such frames could have been broken into two or three as would be feasible.
Documentation has a tremendous impact on events of our life and this fact has been well endorsed and recognized in the film. Though focused overwhelmingly on a humanitarian angle yet the picture conveys very pertinent socio-political message. Conversion of hard-core terrorists and terror planners into political class and social influencers in Kashmir valley have been depicted in a very professional way. The moral of the story includes an important note that the facts of history can't be forgotten. They need to be remembered in order to ensure that the mistakes of the past aren't repeated in future.
The Kashmir files needs to be viewed more by non-Kashmiri sections of the society in order to know the real facts about Kashmir and in this regard, the subtitles in English in the film will greatly help them to understand the subject well. The film has a very positive message in the end. The film maker puts the onus and responsibility of taking the positive aspects of Kashmir to the world upon the younger generations of Kashmir and has a great belief in them. Truly so, this picture is not an end of the saga but it opens vistas for new expectations and opportunities regarding Kashmir. There is an imperative need to carry the thread of the film forward for the betterment of Kashmir.
The right intent and hard labour in terms of The Kashmir Files manifest the golden words of Noble laureate, Alexander Solzehnistin, in essence: "In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise again a thousand fold in future. When we neither punish nor reproach the evil doers, we are ripping the foundations of justice of which no trace will be left for our future generations for protection against evil.”
(The author is a senior BJP & KP leader, Incharge: Deptt of Political Feedback, BJP-J&K and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)