Joseph Goebbels, known as a propaganda minister, leader of Nazi party in Germany who was also right hand of Hitler used media and others medium before the Second World War to create hatred against Jews. They made movies based on propaganda against Jewish minority population and succeeded in vandalizing the whole nation. Similarly, Modi in India is using Media and film industry to demonize minority Muslims and showing them an evil entity. India is known as a counterfeit broadcast factory when it comes to agenda-setting, framing, and disseminating fake news. Several movies have been released by India on the Kashmir situation in the past. The Kashmir Files is a 2022 Indian Hindi-language film produced by Zee Studios, the film is based on the story of the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus during the Kashmir Insurgency. It depicts Indian efforts of re-writing historical events of IIOJK based on deceit and lies to distort reality and justify its brutal actions in IIOJK. The film highlighted the issue of the “massacre” of Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) and their eviction from the occupied valley. It portrayed the one side of the story that proves Kashmiri Muslims had evicted the Hindus from Kashmir whereas the reality is the opposite.
Historically, the story of the Kashmiri Pundits’ exodus is an extraordinarily difficult one to tell. On one side there are stories of thousands of Pundits who left the valley during the insurgency that erupted in IIOJK in 1989, suggesting that the community suffered enough intimidation to abandon their homes. On the other hand, the accounts of Kashmiri Pundits who stayed behind in Kashmir contradict claims by Pundits in the diaspora who say that Kashmiri Pundits suffered ‘a genocide’ and were forced ‘into exile’. Understanding the experience of the Pundits, caught between Kashmir’s Muslim majority and the ambitions of the Indian state, is an intricate affair. The descriptions of the flight of the Pundits from Kashmir are highly politicized and contentious.
Traditionally, the film is based on historical reassessment which reflect the India government propaganda aimed at fostering prejudice against Kashmiri Muslims. The film was professed tax-free in several states of India and became a box office success. It is also widely believed that the film has BJP/ RSS government’s patronage and support. Vivek Agnihotri, film producer endorsed the film as depicting the “truth of Kashmir” that gives message as the exodus of Kashmiri Pundits is a “genocide”. The Jawaharlal Nehru University is seen as an anti-national, terror-friendly institution in the film. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which granted ostensibly autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, is labelled as one of the main cause for the evacuation of the Kashmiri Pandits.
However, the media specialists described the film as a work of fictional and agenda-driven historical reconsideration that created without facts, lies, and plenty of distortions” aimed at provoking hatred against Muslims. Shubhra Gupta, an acclaimed and established Indian film critic and columnist has rated the film a 1.5 out of 5 stars; for the sole reason that, the film was held to be a work of propaganda aligned with the ruling party’s discourse that only aimed to stoke the “deep-seated anger” of pundits.
The film has been also professed tax-free in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tripura, and Uttar Pradesh. The Kashmir Files was released on over 630 screens in India on 11 March 2022. The film earned $3.55 crore at the domestic box office on its opening day. On its second day, the film showed growth of 139.44% and earned $8.50 crore, taking its total domestic box office collection to $12.05 crore. Rahul Desai another Indian film critic called the Kashmir Files film as a defensive and dishonest dive into the past where every Muslim was a Nazi and every Hindu, a Jew. Desai graded the film in the following words, “totally unconvincing screenplay with weak characters, it is a propaganda that strove only to tune in with the Hindu nationalist mood of the nation rather than offer genuine empathy to the displaced victims”.
Amid the international criticism of the agenda-driven film Kashmir Files, the Singaporean authorities refused the classification of the Kashmir Files for “its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir”. Singapore has banned the Bollywood movie ‘The Kashmir Files, assessing it to be “beyond” the city-state’s film classification guidelines. A joint statement was issued in Singapore by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth (MCCY), and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
They said that the film’s representations “have the potential to cause enmity between different communities, and disrupt social cohesion and religious harmony in our multiracial and multi-religious society,” they said. Under the film classification guidelines, “any material that is denigrating to racial or religious communities in Singapore” will be refused classification.
In India, the movie has been lauded by the ruling camp, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah coming forward to shower praise on the performances and the content. Indian government’s fake media machine is using Bollywood to propagate its expansionist designs, the character of Indian media has been completely exposed at national and international levels. The film is so sensitive that it burns old wounds and hurts emotions not solely of Hindus in particular but Muslims as well, who are demonstrated as the brand ambassadors of terrorism.
It is a time that BJP led Modi government in India should realize that using Media against any minority would further divide the Indian society. The BJP is disseminating the wrong impression across the globe, it will tarnish India’s image and would lead the Indian state towards anarchy. Breaking the deadlock created by this film industry is possible only if the people of every state across India, realizing their duty, come forward to stop the process of division between society, mainstream, and social media. Unity, peace and stability only possible when minorities are protected and they are given their due rights.