Director Vivek Agnihotri in a new interview likened making The Kashmir Files in the current climate to making Schindler’s List at the peak of Nazism in the 1940s. His comments left the interviewer incredulous.
Agnihotri has long maintained the position that he made The Kashmir Files to highlight the plight of Kashmiri Hindus who’ve been outcast from their ancestral land because of terrorism. In a new interview with the New Yorker, the filmmaker denied claims that the film was made possible because of goverment support, and that it has encouraged radical-minded right-wingers to vilify the Muslim minority.
“It was impossible to make a film about the Kashmiri Hindu genocide,” he said. “The reason was terrorism; everybody was scared. But then we decided to do it. People came to my office and hit my manager. I was heckled. So now the government of India has given me security. And this is exactly why people do not make movies on the Kashmiri Hindu genocide, because it is assumed that, if Hindus are in the majority in India, then they’re powerful everywhere, but this is wrong. When Schindler’s List was made, the whole world appreciated it and people said, ‘Yes, you brought the truth out.’ But imagine making Schindler’s List when the Nazis were ruling. Imagine making it when Hitler was ruling. Now terrorism is ruling.”
Asked if he was suggesting that terrorism is ruling over modern-day India, the filmmaker continued, “Oh, of course. I don’t think there is any human being who’s going to appreciate the terrorist activities. Our film is very clearly about what happens when terrorism seeps in and when humanity is absent. And, therefore, the impact of the movie as desired by me as a filmmaker is exactly what is happening. People are crying, they’re hugging each other, they’re saying, ‘We are sorry.’ And the whole entire India is coming together. And that’s why there is so much euphoria.”
Agnihotri called The Kashmir Files a ‘soft, emotional film’, and once again took the interviewer aback. He was asked to repeat what he said. “It’s an emotional film. It’s got a more feature-film format rather than a harsh statement,” he added.
The Kashmir Files is the year’s biggest Hindi language hit. It was released quietly, but rode a wave of positive word-of-mouth towards more than Rs 350 crore domestically. The reviews weren’t as kind. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. It told the story of a German businessman who rescued over a thousand Jewish prisoners from concentration camps and certain during World War II.