Thank You Nadav Lapid For Reminding Us Propaganda Films Cannot Be Work Of Art

Sarkaar unki hai to kya huasystem to hamara hai.., the lines of The Kashmir Files finally coming to light. When the movie which received a glowing endorsement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for setting the record straight was trashed as vulgar propaganda by the head of the jury of International Film Festival of India, Goa.

Hate gets called out eventually. Let’s accept that PM Modi and his government, Bharatiya Janata Party, Right Wing ecosystem feverishly promoted The Kashmir Files movie by Vivek Agnihotri.

The Kashmir Files– was championed by PM Modi, rejected by IFFI jury head Nadav Lapid who called it propaganda and a vulgar movie inappropriate for the film festival.

So finally, it took an Israeli to publicly embarrass the government on The Kashmir Files.

If vulgar propaganda through the film was not enough, the RW brigade is now spamming the Israeli consulate with ‘threats’ so much so that it managed to bully the Israeli envoy Naor Gilon to release a statement in a series of tweets shaming and calling out Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid for his ‘courage’ and ‘audacity’.

We saw how a vile film like The Kashmir Files made, produced, distributed and championed by bigots was highlighted and promoted in India by the political party in power. The folks who were never seen earlier with the Kashmiri Pandit cause suddenly became activists for the pandits who were displaced in the early 90’s. The moot question should be asked to Mr Vivek Agnihotri, Mr Anupam Kher and others-where were you when the KP exodus happened?

Truth be told, I have seen The Kashmir Files, when you make a propaganda film and leave no stone unturned in misusing your power to reward a film that is vulgar and is made with the sole intention of ‘othering’ a community, this is how embarrassing it gets.

The whole country sat and watched how during the screening of The Kashmir Files videos of Anti-Muslim hate, anti-minority sloganeering, slogans went viral on social media. Video of a crowd shouting slogans of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ outside Delite Cinema in New Delhi made it easier for social media to spread vitriol against their own citizenry, putting the already cornered into a state of desolation.

The controversial film opened up to an impressive 600 cinemas across India on March 11.

Reviews of the film found it to be islamophobic and dishonest, much before the film was released it invited public interest litigation on the grounds that its inflammatory scenes are bound to cause communal violence.

All of you should watch it, Indian PM Modi said in a searing attack on the opponents of the BJP and further said that it has rattled the entire ecosystem which claims to be the torch bearer of freedom of expression but does not want the truth to be told.

Apparently Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur was in the front row when distinguished Israeli filmmaker Lapid trashed The Kashmir Files as vulgar propaganda and inappropriate for an artistic festival.

A third rate film that weaponises hate against Muslims or rather any community should have no place in a pluralistic democracy let alone its cause being triumphed by the political party in power.

Earlier propaganda films were made to spread hatred against Jews. The film The Eternal Jew was made specifically to target the Jewish community. The Jewish community was sadly misrepresented and stereotyped, Jews were shown with flowing beards wearing kaftans, their movements were compared to those of rodents and rats, they were branded as killers of Christ, even Shakespeare went along with the archetypal idea of the Jew when he penned the character of ‘shylock’ in Merchant Of Venice.

Then there are films that document the horrors of the past be it the world wars series, be it the freedom movement of India and the subsequent partition of the country as what better reflection of life than cinema. The inhumanity of the Nazi’s has been well documented in the Schindler’s List, in Roman’s Polanski’s The Pianist.

The movie Titanic depicted the tragic sinking of the RMS British passenger liner which sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during its maiden voyage.

Pearl Harbour the film made in 2001 portrays the attack on ‘Pearl Harbour’ in World War II.

Then there’s a movie Parzania inspired by a true story, set during the Gujarat riots of 2002, it portrays the family of a son who tragically went missing during the riots.

The pathos that transcends religion when a riot hits town affects everybody irrespective of religion was portrayed so beautifully.

It’s normal to find fascination with any movie that earns the reputation for pushing extremes and scandalizing society at large, a few were genuine classics that broke shackles of society and have been considered as pioneering works of art.

The birth of a nation 1915 was a civil war epic, but it distorted history and perpetuated racist behaviour as ‘heroic’ and helped revitalize the Ku Klux Klan into a rabid organization.

The need of the times is about humanity and moving beyond the tragedy of war, riots and violence, there’s a greater need to make powerful films and depict solidarity in the face of cruelty and oppression.

As many people confront hard facts about genocides, riots, hate crimes, civic unrest, the need of the hour is educating the youth about the times, lest history repeats itself, weaponizing history and painting an entire community with the same brush is morally wrong and it takes a few good and courageous men like the Israeli jury member Nadav Lapid to discredit a movie, so what if the government in power was promoting it– a wrong is a wrong.

Saira Shah Halim

is a rights activist and an educator

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