The tragedy of Kashmir has deep roots. Over the decades of endless cycles of violence, waves of separatism, the infiltration of Pakistan-funded terror outfits, and the simmering discontent amongst the people, scholarly works and journalistic exercises have dug deep in order to excavate and explore. As is always the case with complex histories of places and people, we’ve had accounts depending upon which aspect of the issue they have been interested in.
What’s Good: Led by Anupam Kher, The Kashmir Files has applause-worthy performances of every single actor, who stars in it. Vivek does complete justice.
What’s Bad: The duration!
Loo Break: Don’t even think about it before or after the interval! It’s a delicate thread that you don’t want to break.
Watch or Not?: Please do! While many of you may or may not know about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, The Kashmir Files deserves a chance to tell you about things that you don’t know.
Language: Hindi (with English subtitles)
Available On: Theatres Near You!
Runtime: 2 Hours and 50 minutes
The Vivek Agnihotri directorial, The Kashmir Files is based on the real-life exodus and genocide of Kashmir Pandits that took place 32 years back. The plot revolves around a JNU student Darshan Kumaar, who remembers nothing about his childhood. Anupam Kher takes the gut-wrenching film on his shoulders and delivers it, successfully.
The Kashmir Files Movie Review: Script Analysis
Many filmmakers have tried to tell us the story of the Kashmiri Pandits exodus, but none of them have been as accurate and close as Vivek Agnihotri. Unlike Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s – who’s himself a Kashmiri, Shikara, Agnihotri holds no qualms in showing the brutal but honest gut-wrenching tale. The 2-hr-50-min long film opens with kids playing in the freezing cold of Jan 1990. While the commentary about Sachin Tendulkar’s cricket continues to play on the radio, a couple of Kashmiri Muslim boys hit a Hindu young boy named Shiva (Prithviraj Sarnaik), asking him to shout ‘Pakistan Zindabad’. Seeing him getting beaten up, his good friend Abdul holds his hand and asks him to run from there and hide. But soon after, we see a huge rally of Kashmiri Muslim youths setting Pandits’ houses on fire while asking them to Raliv, Galiv yaa Tchaliv means either convert into Islam, die or leave Kashmir.
Later we see a couple of terrorists entering Anupam Kher’s home. Seeing them knock at the door, Sharda Pandit (Bhasha Sumbli) asks her husband to hide in a rice drum. But before that, their neighbours had already told them where he was hiding. Despite her thousands of attempts to stop them, these terrorists enter the store and opened fire at the drum. And it was the next scene that saw my tears roll down my cheeks. To save her father-in-law, Pushker Nath Pandit (Anupam Kher), and her sons from them, she’s forced to eat rice soaked in her husband’s blood.
Fast forward, Sharda’s youngest son Krishna (Darshan Kumaar) is all grown up and he’s a confused JNU student who’s brainwashed by his professor Radhika Menon (Pallavi Joshi). But to fulfil his grandfather Pushker Nath’s last wish, Krishna travels to the valley to keep the former’s ashes at his own home in Kashmir along with his other good friends an IAS officer Brahma Dutt (Mithun Chakraborty), Dr. Mahesh Kumar (Prakash Belawadi), DGP Hari Narain (Puneet Issar) and Journalist Vishnu Ram (Atul Srivastava). This is when Krishna comes to know about the truth and decides to tell everyone about it, in his own way.
I was born in Kashmir but migrated when I was a baby. While our generation has only heard stories, our parents have literally gone through those scary times. To be very honest, the only generation that has suffered is our parents. Most of our generation’s parents got married during such circumstances. Some of the old folks of our community still live in hope that one day they will return to their homeland, while others have passed away thinking about the same. Our parents were just married and had their eyes filled with thousand dreams of a bright future. But even before they could think about it, they witnessed something that changed their lives forever and for the worse.
So who better to watch and judge the story than the victim themselves? I decided to take my mother along and see if she would approve of the film. Guess what? Right from the first few scenes till the end of the film, one thing my mother kept saying was, “Bilkul aisa hi hua tha. Bilkul sach bataya hai. (Exactly the same happened, they have shown the truth.) With 15 minutes into the film, my mother said, “Wait and watch, as this is nothing that you have seen.”
Before the interval, Pushker Nath along with Sharda, Krishna and Shiva, and other Kashmiri Pandits are seen leaving in a truck to Jammu in the early morning without taking any belongings. We later see a lot of dead pandits crucified to the trees and it will make your hearts sink.
Moving forward, these Kashmiri Pandits are seen living in tents at a place called Purkhoo Camp, but guess what an irony could be? I and my family have lived in this migrant camp my entire childhood. Tents were later made in quarters, walls of which were made of plywood. Many of them died within a few days as some were bitten by scorpions and snakes and others couldn’t bear the scorching heat of Jammu.
Even after 32 years of exodus, still, no one has forgotten their motherland and have an undying hope of returning to their homeland.
Coming back, in the climax, the terrorist leader Bitta (Chinmay Mandlekar), stripped off Sharda’s clothes in front of other Kashmiris and later punishes her by slitting her into two pieces using a cutting machine. Mind you all these scenes are not fictional, these are just 10% of what actually happened during the exodus. While watching this, my mother was quick to recall that one of my father’s brothers was also cut into two pieces with a saw right in front of their eyes.
I wish I could tell you more, but I think all the words in the world aren’t enough to describe the pain.
The filmmakers recreating the 2003 Nadimarg massacre scene of killing 24 Kashmiri Pandits will make you leave the theater sobbing and with a heavy heart.
The Kashmir Files Movie Review: Star Performance
Anupam Kher delivers a scintillating performance as Pushker Nath Pandit, who makes it more realistic with his Kashmiri tone. I still can’t get over the scene when he comes to know about his grandson Krishna standing in presidential elections and chanting ‘Azaadi’. He sings a Kashmiri song and tells Krishna that he’s freezing.
Apart from the lead star cast, National Award Winner Pallavi Joshi is one such actor who will leave you spellbound with her performance. Joshi has successfully served justice to her character.
Darshan Kumaar takes your heart with his performance when he learns about the real reason behind his parents’ death. In the climax scene, the actor takes the film on his shoulders but gets lost a little bit during his monologue.
Last but not the least, now we can totally understand why was Mithun Chakraborty cast in the film. Else who would had told us this painful story without telling much?