The closing ceremony of the 53rd International Film Festival of India stoked a controversy on Monday with festival jury chair Nadav Lapid saying that members of the jury were disturbed and shocked by the Kashmir Files, a movie he described as “vulgar propaganda”.
The Kashmir Files, which deals with the 1990 exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, was part of the pool of 15 films competing in the international section for the golden peacock, the festival’s top prize.
But Lapid, an Israeli screenwriter and director who has won awards at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, said that while members of the jury had vivid discussions about the other 14 films in the competition, the 15th left them shocked. “We were all of us disturbed and shocked by the 15th film by the movie Kashmir Files that felt for us like a vulgar propaganda movie inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival,” he said from a lectern in the televised closed ceremony.
“I feel totally comfortable to share these feelings with you on stage since the feeling we felt at this festival can truly accept a critical discussion, which is essential for art and for life,” Lapid added.
The Kashmir Files was screened at IFFI while actor Anupam Kher, director Vivek Agnihotri and producer were present at the festival. The Hindi language drama was a top grosser this year and received support from some members of the Bharatiya Janata Party but was derided by some scholars for inaccuracies.
Director general of Press Information Bureau and one of IFFI’S organisers, Monideepa Mukherjee, said that chairman of the jury was entitled to his comments. “The jury, which addressed a press conference, earlier during the festival, said that at every festival you will have a wide range of films. He is entitled to his opinion,” Mukherjee said.