Israeli ambassador to India apologises after filmmaker's remarks spark uproar

The filmmaker called Kashmir Files a 'propaganda movie'. It became a runaway hit in India and tells the fictional story of a student who discovers his Kashmiri Hindu parents were killed by Islamist militants

Reuters
Published : 30 Nov 2022, 04:55 AM
Updated : 30 Nov 2022, 04:55 AM

An Israeli filmmaker's criticism of a film depicting the exodus of India's majority Hindu population from the disputed region of Kashmir has sparked an uproar in India and prompted an apology from the Israeli ambassador.

Nadav Lapid, an Israeli filmmaker who headed the jury at a government-organised film festival in the Indian state of Goa, said during Monday's closing ceremony that "The Kashmir Files" was a "propaganda movie" that had no place at a film festival, drawing a wave of criticism and outrage on social media.

The film, a runaway hit in India when released in March this year, tells the fictional story of a student who discovers his Kashmiri Hindu parents were killed by Islamist militants - and not in an accident as his grandfather had told him.

Lapid's name was trending on Twitter for most of Tuesday and several users accused him of dismissing the portrayal of the exodus of Hindus from Muslim-majority Kashmir.

"Calling it 'ugly' and 'propaganda' is uncalled for and beyond any film Jury’s mandate. Their mandate should be limited to judging the film and not making political comments on public stage," Twitter user Sunanda Vashisht said.

Naor Gilon, Israel's ambassador to India, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, apologised on Twitter. "As a human being I feel ashamed and want to apologise to our hosts for the bad manner in which we repaid them for their generosity and friendship," he said.

"I’m no film expert but I do know that it’s insensitive and presumptuous to speak about historic events before deeply studying them and which are an open wound in India because many of the involved are still around and still paying a price," Gilon said in a thread addressed to Lapid.

Lapid could not be reached for a comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has praised the film, which focuses on the violent upheaval of 1989-90 in Kashmir.

Supporters of Modi and the BJP have endorsed the movie while videos published online show people in movie audiences cheering, shouting slogans and waving Indian flags during screenings.

But some critics said the film may fan anti-Muslim sentiment in a country they fear is being polarised along religious lines.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher