In our country, film awards are seldom without controversy. The 69th National Film Awards, which were announced a few days ago, provoked a widespread debate from many sectors around the country, as they do every year. The controversial film ‘The Kashmir Files’ by Vivek Agnihotri was one of the key reasons for this year’s awards controversy.
The jury selected ‘The Kashmir Files’ for the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film in National Integration. This choice garnered criticism because it appeared to be an ironic choice. Many critics labeled The Kashmir Files, which depicted the predicament of Kashmiri pundits during the height of the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, as a propaganda film against the Muslim community. At the time of the film’s premiere, there was a major outcry since many people believed that the director’s biased approach would propagate communal enmity across the country.
Despite the fact that the picture was a box office success, there were massive protests and calls for a blanket ban on its release. Even certain political heavyweights, including as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Stalin, have slammed the filmmakers, claiming that the film had a hidden goal.
Now, critics are expressing their displeasure with the jury’s decision to screen such a contentious film under the ‘The National Integration’ category. Many people have criticized their choice as pure satire. Previously, deserving films such as Roja, Bombay, Sapthapadi, Rudraveena, Border, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, and Shaheed Uddham Singh, among others, won Oscars in the same category for promoting human values, national harmony, and unity in diversity without causing any controversies.
It has been an open secret since the day The Kashmir Files was revealed, and it supposedly has the support of the ruling administration at the center because of this. Some BJP politicians openly promoted the film after its release as well. As a result, the political motivation for naming the picture ‘The Best picture in National Integration’ cannot be ruled out. It is past time for the jury not to be persuaded by political ideas, because films should promote culture and harmony rather than hatred and division.