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Leading OTT platform wanted The Kashmir Files to not use the term ‘Islamic Terrorism’ or insert ‘Hindu terrorism’ in dialogues, Vivek Agnihotri reveals

In a detailed interview with OpIndia CEO Rahul Raushan, The Kashmir Files director Vivek Agnihotri talked in length about the process of making the film, the challenges his team faced and how he made sure that the film gets a theatrical release.

Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri’s multi-starrer ‘The Kashmir Files’ which aims at capturing the authentic stories of The Kashmiri Hindu Genocide in a cinematic way, is all set to hit the screens on March 11, 2022. The movie trailer has caught the nerve among the audiences on the internet whereas the special screenings of the film in Jammu and Delhi witnessed standing ovation from the audience with an outpouring of emotion.

In a detailed interview with OpIndia CEO Rahul Roushan, The Kashmir Files director Vivek Agnihotri talked in length about the process of making the film, the challenges his team faced and how he made sure that the film gets a theatrical release. Agnihotri also described how leading OTT (Over-the-top) platforms work inside a restricted framework of certain ideologies and how it affected ‘The Kashmir Files’ when a platform approached him to release the film on OTT instead.

At around 27 minutes into above video while talking about how fixed narratives are peddled while making films in the industry, Vivek Agnihotri narrated an incident from 2020 when the Head of a leading OTT platform in the country approached him to release ‘The Kashmir Files’ on his platform. The rise of Covid-19 cases meant the complete closure of public spaces like cinema halls. This made even big banner production houses ditch the theatrical release and instead feature their films on platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ Hotstar, Sony Liv, Zee 5, etc.

Vivek Agnihotri said, “What I am saying here can be verified. The head of one-of-the most talked about OTT companies was keen on buying the film at a very vulgar price. If I were a typical commercial-minded filmmaker, I would have signed the deal there itself.”

However, Vivek was taken aback when the executive asked him in open on whether any specific adjective was used for terrorism which is talked about in the film. According to Vivek, the executive asserted, “We have a global policy that we do not use the term ‘Islamic terrorism’ in any of our films. I hope you are not using that.”

“How is this even possible? When the calls of Ralive, Tsalive, Galive (Convert to Islam, leave the valley or die) were given, it was nothing but Islamic terrorism. The calls of converting to Islam, Raj Karega Allah (only Allah will rule) were openly given.” Vivek replied staunchly. He further added, “This was not the case of targeting political opponents telling people to leave the valley because they don’t agree with their ideology. This was also not a case of cultural targeting alone where say the celebration of festivals like Diwali was opposed.”

“The incitement against Hindus was clear and so was a message to them – either convert or flee and those who did not budge were killed. The calls threatening Hindus to leave the valley while leaving their women were also given. Alongside Hindus, Sikhs were also killed in the genocide only because of their religion and not because of their economic stature as suggested by journalists like Barkha (Dutt),” said the filmmaker while describing the genocide of Hindus that unfolded in the Kashmir valley in the 1990s.

“It is like making a film on The Holocaust without mentioning Nazi Germany and Hitler. So who killed the Jews,” Vivek Agnihotri asked. To this proposition, the OTT company head replied, “It is also true that Muslims were also killed. So then, you will have to use the term ‘Hindu Terrorism’ as well.” Agnihotri said that he told the OTT executive that the Muslims who were killed during genocide were not killed by Hindu terrorists but by Islamic terrorists for calling out the genocide and standing by the Hindus.

‘This is how a control is created with a one-sided narrative,” he added and said that they eventually left the office of the OTT platform. Though Vivek Agnihotri didn’t directly name the OTT platform, he hinted that its head directly admitting about the platform not doing well in Indian markets. Incidentally, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had recently confessed in public about the slow growth of the video streaming company in the Indian market.

The ideological isolation of the film is not restricted to limiting its release but has also resulted in film critics like Anupama Chopra seemingly sabotaging the film before its release. NDTV was caught tweaking the SEO settings by calling The Kashmir Files a ‘propaganda film’ months before its release. The film has also landed into legal troubles with certain people wanting to stall its release.

When asked by a fan about why The Kashmir Files was not featured on the popular The Kapil Sharma Show aired on Sony TV, Agnihotri said his team was not invited because the film did not have a ‘big commercial star.’

Going beyond the economic and ideological isolation or be it the legal battles in front of the film’s release, Vivek Agnihotri reiterated that he has made The Kashmir Files because he has faith in his audience. “I respect the intelligence of the audience. Even The Tashkent Files and Buddha in a Traffic Jam were made out of respecting the audience’s intelligence. I sensed that only the people would get the film,”

The Kashmir Files is set for its theatrical release on March 11, 2022. The film stars Darshan Kumar, Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi, Chinmay Mandlekar and Bhasha Sumbli in lead roles.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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