Nadav Lapid is a free man who makes good films, and has the right to air his views. He was invited to Goa to the head the IFFI jury by Indian officials. His understanding of cinema is his own to savour and propagate. That he condemned The Kashmir Files as ‘vulgar’ and ‘propaganda’ is his prerogative as an intellectual as well as an auteur. To raise him to a pedestal, and allow him to use our mike and stage, though, is our own folly.
IFFI is organized by National Film Development Corporation of India (under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) and the state of Goa. Officials of these sarkari entities must have vetted the names for the jury. Surely some one, somewhere must have done basic background check. An elementary search would have brought to light Nadav Lapid’s views on Israel’s Occupation. That he screamed ‘keep off from me’ would be an understatement. India should have taken care not to invite this man even as a measure of precaution given his running feud with the Israeli establishment. And yet, Lapid was invited by some babu to piss upon our heads. He has fulfilled our masochistic desires in full measure.
Even as he berated and lampooned the film documenting the tragedy of our own, many top officials, dignitaries and surely some members from the acting fraternity must have been present in the aisles. Could not anyone of them summon guts to contradict him publicly? Now tweeting wont suffice. Twitter is just a hideout- the sanctuary of losers. Some official or journalist should have taken him head-on and asked him why was hell bent on disregarding our hospitality and mocking our tragedy? Did he think that our pain was any less important than his fellowmen? Were millions of Indians, who watched and identified with the events documented in the film, baser people as compared to the Jewish survivors of Holocaust, who similarly found films like the Schindler’s List, the Pianist and sundry others, cathartic? Should realism be banned from film, because the truth is too brutal to be encountered?
Even a day after Lapid proffered his comments, it is left to the Kashmir Files’ director Vivek Agnihotri and the actor Anupam Kher to post angry counters. The Counsel General and the Ambassador of Israel have lambasted Lapid for his unconsidered comments. The government of Israel had expressed regrets. The Indonesian Minister of Culture has spoken up in favour of the film. Has any Indian official spoken up yet? Has the government croaked? The year had begun on a thumping note with the release of this much-required film which faithfully documents the tragedy of 1990s and the kind of thunderous public response it received. But the year now ends with this tame capitulation by Indian officialdom. The targeted killings and the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits is recent history which we have all lived through, yet it is sought to be shamelessly denied. The film served as catharsis for the survivors, and as timely warning for the rest of the countrymen. The Kashmir model might be replicated in other states in times to come. This is how Land Jihad happens. When the aim is to cleanse the land of the Qafirs, this is the very modus operandi to change the demography.
Nadav Lapid is not obligated to Indians that he would have acknowledged the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits. He must be having an agenda of his own. But what do we suffer from? Why could our officials not stand up in the heat of the moment? Is our blood blended with ethanol? Should Nadav Lapid not have been asked if Raaliv-Saaliv-Gaaliv, Allahu Akbar, Kashmir Banega Pakistan did not get raised in the streets? Were not the calls of boycott given from the mosques? Did not bullets and blood flow freely in the streets? How is the harsh reality of Kashmir any different from Occupation and Intifada? Why did he try to sow difference between the Indians and the Israelis? The Jews are our inspiration, not the competition. How Jews returned to Israel, so shall Kashmiri Pandits return to Kashmir one day. That dream is not dead. The film aimed to keep the hope and resolve alive.
Which segment in the film did he Nadav find fake? Which particular scene did he find vulgar or over-the-top? The film narrative clearly shows and suggests that a few liberal Muslim voices, suspected of being Indian spies and sympathizers were mercilessly killed alongside Pandits. Curiously, if the fight was to turn Kashmir into Pakistan, it could not be termed as ‘quest for Azaadi’, but acknowledging this simple point is too much bother and does not suit the Islamo-Bolshevik agenda. After all the muck in the world is hurled at our quest for tabulating and safekeeping the historical tragedy, I would remember this film for the scene symbolizing the Exodus-cum-Genocide in all its poignancy- a little girl peeing in the corner of a truck in the curtained corner created by her mother looks up to behold the tall chinars playing silent witnesses of their late night escape, even as the Valley, the so-called Jannat, looks just a beautiful under snow-cover as it ever was. Her reverie, the air of regret at leaving Kashmir and the pathos of the moment are broken by the terrible sight of two Pandit corpse hung on trees.
I do not know if Nadav Lapid could comprehend or relate to this scene, or even wanted to, but this one scene shall long haunt anyone who has basic understanding of cinema, and has humanity left in him to get affected by the power of images.
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