The Kashmir Files (2022) Review – Whenever it ventures into fiction, it fails

    When the insurgency in Kashmir erupted, Islamist terrorists targeted Kashmiri Hindus. They began murdering Hindus with slogans such as “either convert or die.” As a result, one of the most horrific human tragedies in independent India unfolds. Thousands of Kashmiri Hindus were forcibly displaced. They became homeless in their own country overnight. The Kashmir Files claims to discuss the injustices faced by Kashmiri Hindus.

    Without wasting any time the film starts to talk business from the opening scene, followed by some gruesome killings. This level of brutality is rarely seen in Indian films. So, such scenes from The Kashmir Files will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the audience. Cinema has recently evolved into an escapist companion. But not in this case. There is no way out. It will make you much more uncomfortable when you realise that these atrocities did, sadly, happen in our own country.

    The Kashmir Files has been a subject of controversy since the release. Without delving into the political narratives of this film, We attempt to review The Kashmir Files only on the basis of its cinematic merits. Vivek Agnihotri compiles a collection of real-life testimonies and attempts to weave them into a coherent narrative. As a result, he ends up with a storyline where all these tragedies happened to the same family. This is unconvincing and it leads to contradiction in Anupam Kher’s character (Puskar Nath Pandit). Anupam’s family was murdered one by one. However, the terrorist always keeps Anupam Kher alive. Darshan Kumar’s character (Krishna Pandit) likewise suffered from bad writing. It is hard to believe that a Kashmiri Pandit with strong political ambitions is completely oblivious to what happened in Kashmir. Even when he is perplexed, he never bothers to study books or conduct research. Throughout the film, he never looks convincing. We believe the problem arises when real-life testimonies are forced to fit into your fictitious world. When the film makes direct references to true events, it succeeds; yet, when it ventures into fiction, it fails.

    The Kashmiri Files could have been a better film, but when you develop a character like Mogambo or like a daily soap vamp, you limit the film’s genuine potential. You can sense the terrible writing all over the place as the movie progresses. However, Vivek Agnihotri succeeds in creating suspense with his non-linear storytelling, which holds your attention throughout the movie.

    The term “cinematic liberty” has always been abused in Bollywood. Thanks to this term, We’ve seen the Bengali manager of the Indian hockey team singing Punjabi songs, one of wrestling’s most successful coaches locking contestants’ father before the final and a former captain of the Indian cricket team singing songs with his fiancée on a bike in foreign areas. In the name of cinematic liberty, Vivek Agnihotri merges two terrorists into one charecter and shows the dreadful Nadimarg massacre in the time-line around 1990. While the actual incident occurred in 2003 and one of the terrorists had been in prison since 1990. We don’t see why these adjustments are being made. Cinematic liberty, on the other hand, is a contentious issue. However, in our opinion, a line needs to be drawn. A film that intended to highlight the anguish of Kashmiri Hindus fell flat when they missed the segment where Kashmiri Hindus struggled in the camp. There are very few scenes of the camps. You can see how they are forcefully evicted from their own home, but you never get to see what happens afterwards. We don’t understand why they didn’t allow enough time for that since the storyline spans 1989 to 2020. It could have helped the film. They obviously mention it in talks, but that is inefficient. They waste time on the university subplot, which detracts you from the underlying emotions of the back story. Each scene in the current timeline isn’t anchored well enough to keep your interest. There are a lot of instances where you think to yourself “..Skip this scene and show us the back story.”

    Last year, another film named Jai Bhim was released, which was also based on true events. For us, both the films are two sides of the same coin. While both attempt to tell stories of injustice in our society, at the same time both suffer from poor writing and rely on out-of-date book techniques. Both films were commercially successful and had incredible IMDB ratings but these are misleading. We are sceptical of these tendencies. We love to filmmakers exploring these subjects, but we don’t want them to get caught up in the Content Wars. Because cinema is beyond content.

    The Kashmiri Files can be a starter. But it can’t quench the hunger of a hungry cinemaholic. It’s great to call out terrorism and injustice but does that guarantee a good cinema? We need to think again.

    Finally, we conclude with a few words from one of cinema’s greats, Akira Kurosova “Civilization has poisoned humanity. The backbone of a good film is the filmmaker’s humane character. If we are not honest to ourselves, we will never be able to make decent films. “

    The Kashmir Files

    Missed opportunity

    About the author

    Ajit has had a passion for movies since he was a child. As a screenwriter, he has written scripts for films and television series. Aside from films, he enjoys travelling. You can follow him on twitter @ajit1113

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