Director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is one of the renowned Bollywood director who has directed several films in the past but he shot to fame from his previous film 'The Tashkent Files'. Although this film did not do wonders on box office but it was critically acclaimed and director Agnihotri was praised much for this film. He continued the same spirit and now came up with an unstoppable, blockbuster movie 'The Kashmir Films'. In an exclusive interview with Yogesh Mishra, director Vivek Agnihotri and his wife Pallavi Joshi, a renowned actress spoke about their latest film, mission and vision behind making 'The Kashmir Files', secret of box office success and more...
‘The Kashmir Files’ completely talks about the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits but there are still few sets of people in India who believes that it was not a genocide but it was an exodus. What's your take on this?
Vivek: Whoever talks to me, they say it was a genocide. Even Pakistani journalist who did the review of this film, have said this a genocide. Everyone is calling it genocide but the only people who are saying it was not a genocide are the people who are at the side of terrorists. If their voice matters then it's worth answering this question but I think we should not give any value to such people.
Pallavi: Exodus happened because of genocide.
Film is more focused on the character of Bitta Karate. There are many others like him in Kashmir valley but they are not mentioned or covered in this film? Any specific reason?
Vivek: Any story belongs to one leading person only. If we talk about India, we talk about Mr. Narendra Modi only because he is the face of India. Similarly, Bitta Karate's character in the film is not just about Bitta Karate, his character is mix of Bitta Karate cum Yasin Malik cum Gilani etc. Basically, he is the face of terror. He is like a CEO of the terror incorporated. When we talk about Tata Sons, we talk about Ratan Tata not the vice president or anybody else of the company.
During Kashmir genocide, many rape cases happened but this film hardly talk about the rape cases. Was it not necessary?
Vivek: There is a scene where the cloths of a lady were torn. That scene gives a sense of rape and I think audience understands the things.
Pallavi: When Sharda Pandit's cloths were torn, it was understood what could have happened with her.
Many political leaders are saying that ‘The Kashmir Files’ is a one-sided story. Would you like to answer them?
Vivek: A story is always one-sided. I don't know what people say. You tell me any story which is two sided? Only those people are saying it one-sided who are with terrorists’ side. Terrorists have no side. So; don't expect from me to be in terrorist’s side. Since last 32 years nobody came forward to take the side of Kashmiri Pandits. Why?
It is said that few scenes including Yasin Malik's meeting with our Ex. PM Dr. Manmohan Singh is deleted from the movie. Is it true?
Vivek: Actually, many scenes are deleted. These scenes were actually taking the film away from our focused areas of concern so; we decided to delete such scenes from the film. But soon we will make these scenes available in public domain. There are rare films who's deleted scenes people want to see. We are lucky enough that people want to see even the deleted scenes of our film.
Almost 100 years ago there was a big genocide happened with Nair families in Kerla. Almost 4 lakhs Nair Hindu families were killed in that. You released a video on this topic much earlier. Is there any plan to make a film on Kerla genocide?
Pallavi: When we will make a film on that, people will again ask why other side of the story is not shown (smiles).
Vivek: Yes, I made a video on that much earlier. Can’t say anything right now that I would be making a film on that or not but I would say just be optimistic.
It is said that, few names are changed in film like JNU and Nivedita Menon. Any specific reason of change?
Pallavi: Our villain's name is Farooq Malik Bitta. There is no one in this name. Bitta Karate's name is Farooq Dhar. Second villain is Yasin Malik. When we represent 3-4 characters in one, so naturally we need to change it. Similarly, Radhika Menon's character is a fusion few deferent characters that's why her character name is Radhika Menon. Name of JNU is changed to ANU. I think people are smart enough to understand.
There are two over sensitive scenes in the film. One is when Sharda Pandit was forced to eat the rice mixed with her husband's blood and second when the same lady goes on wood cutter machine. In last 5 seconds of her life Sharda says 'Om Namah Shivay'. Whose idea was to give this dialogue at that point of time and why ‘Om namah Shivay’ only?
Vivek: It was scripted. The dialogue 'Om Namah Shivay' given at that point of time because Kashmiri Pandits mostly pray for Lord Shiva. They worship Shiva the most. So; in such a situation she will definitely remember her God only.
Many state Governments have declared tax free to this film (The Kashmir Files). Bollywood is in Mumbai / Maharashtra state but still it’s not tax free here. Any comment on this?
Pallavi: Even I'm shocked. Balasaheb Thakrey has done so many things for Kashmiri Pandits. He only sanctioned special quota for Kashmiri Pandits. I was very much hopeful that our film will be tax free in Maharashtra too but it didn't happen. I’m not connected to politics so; can't say anything on this. Earlier, I send a request to Govt. to make it tax free so that truth can easily reach to the audience but nothing has happened so far. Many states took immediate action on my request and many didn't. Why to talk about Maharashtra only? Why not Rajasthan Govt. who has imposed article 144. I can’t say anything on this.
Despite all these hurdles, film has become unstoppable. Crossed 200+ crores and still counting. What would be the final box office figure, any idea? The break of this vehicle is failed. You being driver, what do you expect? Where is it going to stop?
Vivek: What can I say. How can I stop it when break is failed? I'm not a kind of driver who will direct it towards tree or pole to stop it (Laughs). Actually, it’s not a matter where the film will stop but where this discussion will stop. Our aim is to give the justice to the Kashmiri Pandits. Until they don't go back to their home and start living peacefully there, I think, this discussion should not be stopped. People who are taking sides of terrorists and asking for the other side of the story, their mouth should be shut. They should feel shame and guilt for whatever they have done with Kashmiri Pandits and this this discussion should not be stopped till then.
Few Bollywood movies indirectly justify terrorism. Such things are mentioned in many of your interviews and press conferences too. What’s your comment on this?
Vivek: I saw an interview of Shree Vishal Bhardwaj whom I respect a lot because he is a good director, poet and music director as well. In regards to his film 'Haider' he said 'I am making a film on focusing one point of view.' He also said that, even before him, many others made film like that so, why even they didn't make a film focused on the Kashmiri Hindus. He also said, why even Vidhu Vinod Chopra didn't make Mission Kashmir on Kashmiri Hindu's point of view. Today when I'm making a film on second point of view then these people are asking why am I not making film on other point of view. So; I don't understand what kind of comedy is this. I think, people should make a film on every point of view.
Without using any traditional format of marketing ‘The Kashmir Files’ has become a blockbuster. What according to you is the secret behind it?
Vivek: This is all about our India and Indians who believed in us. So; I think doing no marketing is the biggest marketing (smiles).
Any message for the readers of ‘Bollywood Town’?
Vivek: Thank you so much all of you to watch this film. Just be happy and successful. Try to ensure your contribution to make India intact. Try to make alive your culture and traditions. Thank you so much.
Pallavi: Thank you so much for supporting our movie. I would like to tell you that this film (The Kashmir Files) is made on the truth of Kashmiri Pandits. Our Kashmiri Pandit brothers and sisters are still migrated and the mission of sending them back to their home is still not completed. So; as Vivek rightly said, this discussion should not be stopped until all the Kashmiri Pandits go back to their homes in Kashmir.
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