Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri’s much-awaited movie ‘The Kashmir Files’ is set to hit theatres this Friday, i.e on March 11. While the Censor Board of India passed the movie with an ‘A’ certificate and 7 minor cuts, Vivek Agnihotri recently revealed how the Board wanted him to drop the words “Islamic Terrorist” from the movie but he stood his ground and vigorously defended their usage.
In an interview with Bollywood Hungama, Vivek said that the examining committee of the CBFC had a laundry list of cuts that he had to fight out. Prominent among them was their insistence to get the “Islamic Terrorist” reference removed from the movie. The members, Vivek said, had issues with the use of the words “Islamic Terrorist” and had asked him to remove it from the movie. He further added that more than two dozen cuts were recommended by the CBFC committee members.
However, Vivek refused to budge and provided the CBFC members with proof and documents to back his point. It was only after he furnished the evidence that the CBFC members relented and allowed the film without the aforementioned cuts.
“How can they dispute the facts?” questioned Vivek while adding that it took around two months to complete the entire process of convincing the CBFC members.
Nevertheless, the movie still had to undergo seven minor cuts in order to be passed by the Censor Board. One of the changes suggested by CBFC members was to change the name of the University from JNU to something else. Vivek was initially against this change but he later realised that changing the name of the university won’t dilute the essence of the movie. Therefore, the university‘s name was changed from JNU to ANU.
Leading OTT platform wanted The Kashmir Files to not use the term ‘Islamic Terrorism’
While Censor Board was not the only entity that had reservations with the use of the words “Islamic Terrorist” in the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’. A few days back, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, in a candid conversation with OpIndia CEO Rahul Roushan, recounted an incident when the head of a leading OTT platform demurred at the mention of ‘Islamic Terrorism’ in the movie and wanted him to remove the reference from his film.
Speaking on the question of why he chose not to go with the OTT platform and release it exclusively in theatres, Vivek said he was not willing to give up his Intellectual Property(IP) and strike comprises that deals with the OTT platforms normally entailed. He highlighted an incident on how he was bluntly asked by an OTT executive to remove the reference to ‘Islamic Terrorism’ from his movie.
Vivek said he was taken aback when the executive openly asked him 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.”
Though Vivek Agnihotri didn’t directly name the OTT platform, he hinted that the executive who asked him to remove the reference to ‘Islamic Terrorism’ had admitted about his 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.