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‘This would have never happened if I had made a movie on Nehru’: Maker of The Tashkent Files on movie critics refusing to review the movie

Vivek Agnihotri said that it is these people who politicise the movie industry. He has never asked anyone why they would sing 'Bismillah' in a temple and why would they not film a song chanting 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' in a mosque.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

The ‘Liberals’ are a touchy, sensitive bunch. Their dichotomous and slightly deranged personality often overshadows their better judgement and betrays the lofty ideals they claim to espouse. One of those lofty ideals is that of freedom of speech, and the other is artistic freedom. They have long claimed that these freedoms are sacrosanct. However, these ideals are applicable only to those who follow them with their eyes blindfolded and thank them for the opportunity to be their thought slaves. Vivek Agnihotri dared to not conform, and hence, he is, today the prey to be hunted as his movie “The Tashkent Files”, hits the big screen.

‘The Tashkent Files’ is about one of the tallest leaders of the country, Lal Bahadur Shastri and his mysterious disappearance. A mystery that has long haunted the nation and questions that have long been pointed, in silent, dark corners of the collective subconscious at the first family of Indian politics – The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

The movie has been well received by the audience, however, the ‘liberal’ ecosystem is not too happy with it. Raja Sen, a movie critic who writes for the Hindustan Times decided that ‘The Tashkent Files’ was not worth his time and effort. He declared that he would not be reviewing the movie and having said that, proceeded to link an old review of Agnihotri’s previous movie, Buddha In A Traffic Jam, where he had reviewed Agnihotri’s political ideology more than the movie.

Aseem Chhabra, another soldier of the Bollywood confederate responded to the movie’s PR agent and said he does not want to watch the movie at all. Flat out refused.

stalwarts in the industry like Rajeev Masand and Anupama Chopra have refused to review Vivek Agnihotri’s movie. They have, of course, not provided any reason for doing so, but for those who follow politics and the veiled players in the political arena, are well aware of the reasons that may have forced them to betray their profession.

The rigmarole cannot be easy for a filmmaker. OpIndia reached out to Vivek Agnihotri to get a sense of how he sees the events unfolding and what, according to him, could be reasons for the industry victimising him to this extent.

“This would not have happened if I had made a movie about Jawaharlal Nehru”, he said. And perhaps he was right. He was of the firm belief that he was being specifically targeted by the elites of Bollywood because he has been a supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said that Bollywood is like an elite boy’s club who disown anyone who doesn’t espouse the same political ideology that they espouse. If someone is a part of the video that slams PM Modi, they are their own, however, if someone is a part of the 900 people who want to support the Prime Minister and his policies, they are immediately shunned from the industry.

He said that it is these very people who cry from the rooftops about political ideologies tarnishing the art world, however, they let their ideology dictate how their view a piece of art like a movie. When Udta Punjab was released, the people on the ‘right’, including Vivek himself and even Ashoke Pandit supported the film and the filmmakers artistic right. However, those very people have today turned around and abandoned his movie and would most gladly see the movie boycotted.

Vivek Agnihotri said that it is these people who politicise the movie industry. He has never asked anyone why they would sing ‘Bismillah’ in a temple and why would they not film a song chanting ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ in a mosque. It doesn’t matter to him, but for the so-called liberals of the industry, these are the principles that dictate whether or not someone should be allowed to make movies or not.

The Tashkent Files talks about the mysterious death of Lal Bahadur Shastri. Vivek said that in hating him, these “liberals” have started hating Lal Bahadur Shastri himself since he was the symbol of nationalism. A rural leader who couldn’t speak in suave English like Nehru. They hate him and the movie because it symbolises Nationalism.

“Why else would they have a problem with The Tashkent Files”, he asked. “The Madras Cafe was a fantastic movie and it was based on the death of Rajiv Gandhi. The two movies are of the same genre and theme. Why would these people not have a problem with Madras Cafe but have a problem with The Tashkent Files?”.

“If I had made a movie on Jay Prakash Narayan or Indira Gandhi, they would have loved it. They would have called it a work of art with scientific temperament. But If I had made a movie on Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, they would have killed me. They would have done the same thing they are doing today”, he said.

Slamming the ‘freedom of speech’ warriors further, he said that this group of people believe in the idea of freedom of expression and speech only for those who adhere to their whims and fancies. The ones who dare to rebel, dare to conform are shunned and hounded.

With everything that is happening today and the level of hatred that a movie has to to ensure without even being watched, one has to wonder if the “liberal” ecosystem is indeed punishing Vivek Agnihotri for being a Modi supporter and choosing to make a movie on Nationalist Lal Bahadur Shastri instead of focusing on the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty. This is perhaps their dog-whistle to their fellow comrades – we will oppose everyone who supports Modi, even if we don’t sign some letter or return our awards.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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