As his film, “The Kashmir Files”, based on the forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley gets set to release on March 11 this year, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri says no film made on this theme in India has been able to capture the truth about the tragedy. “In fact some were pro-terrorism while others seemed to focus on a love story, keeping the exodus in the background. They were agenda driven narratives and not honest films. ‘The Kashmir Files’, from the first to the last frame sticks to the injustice the community has faced,” he tells IANS.
Brewing in his mind for the past three decades, and making it for over four years now, the filmmaker says he researched thoroughly on the subject before touching it. “We travelled extensively and met the first-generation victims — going to their houses, living with them and then recording their video testimonials which ran into hours and days. Post that, we took all these stories, more than 700 of them and picked up common elements, weaving them into a narrative.”
The film, which stars Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi and Puneet Issar besides others has had a few select screenings in the US, which were attended by many members of the Pandit diaspora. Not to mention, a Congressional reception for the director, where Congressmen and Senators came and spoke about the film. “The response was extraordinary. For the past thirty years, nobody asked the Pandits what happened to them. In the numerous TV debates on Kashmir, they have always been left out,” says Agnihotri.
Talking about Zee Live’s ‘Arth – A Culture Fest’ (February 18-20), which he attends annually, the director feels that it is dedicated to culture, and he has always believed that the same is the backbone of the society. “Art, literature, music poetry all these things are the soul of our country.”
Adding that he is a socio-political commentator who prefers to talk on behalf of those who are not heard and prosecuted for the wrong reason, he adds, “I get attracted to stories that are not brought into the spotlight, the ones ignored even by the media. In fact, all my previous ones and the next two too are on such subjects.”
Agnihotri, who has announced his next film titled ‘The Delhi Files’ says he has started work on yet another project. “It is a big canvas film and covers perhaps the most important chapter of Indian history. However, I would not like to talk about it right now.”
(Sukant Deepak can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)