Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri's The Kashmir Files has taken the entire Indian subcontinent by storm.
Dubbed by his supporters and the ruling party of India as a historically accurate movie, the movie is supposed to portray an accurate depiction of the expulsion of Kashmiri Pandits in the early 1990s, the only native Hindu community of the valley due to insurgency.
While the fact is historically accurate that a large number of Pandits were brutally killed and tortured by the militants who saw them as Indian stooges and obstacles to getting a free Kashmir, critics across the world have considered the movie to have vastly exaggerated the whole incident in order to instil hatred against the Muslims in the persistent polarising atmosphere of India.
The film is about a persecuted Pandit family. The entire family was killed brutally in insurgency except for an infant and his grandfather. The infant, named Krishna Pandit, grows up to become a progressive student leader and stands for the cause of Kashmir's independence, not knowing what happened to his parents.
His grandfather, Pushker Nath Pandit, hides the hate messages from him from time to time and gives alternate translations to those.
But Krishna comes to know about the way his parents were murdered and turns against the cause of Kashmiri Independence by delivering a public speech much to the discontent of Professor Radhika Menon, played by Pallavi Joshi, who 'brainwashed' Krishna into the cause.
The film is full of gory violent scenes and has a straightforward narrative to put the Muslims in a bad light. The naming of the characters has also been done adroitly by the director to have an appeal to the Hindutva masses, with Krishna, Shiva and most importantly Sharda, the patron goddess of Kashmir being the names of the characters.
The casting was done with actors and actresses having close ties with the current ruling party of India, notably Mithun Chakrabarty and Anupam Kher.
The film is also critical of the liberal Academia, branding them as vile leftists who stand against the integrity and sovereignty of India, which itself is reminiscent of classic right-wing propaganda across the world.
The exodus of the Pandits from the valley is definitely one of the most tragic things to have happened and deserved a film of its own. But this film doesn’t capture the real essence of the whole incident and goes on with the 'Us vs. Them' and 'Muslims Bad' rhetoric which is increasingly worrying for the persistence of a safe and sound atmosphere in India for the Muslims.
Kashmir Files is an exaggerated, to some extent, distorted and partial depiction of a sensitive account of history that has done nothing but infuse more hatred in the already dire situation.