Vivek Agnihotri's recently released film ‘The Kashmir Files' has been banned in Singapore on the grounds that it could disturb religious harmony.

Still from The Kashmir FilesFacebook/ Vivek Agnihotri
Flix Cinema Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - 13:16

Vivek Agnihotri's recently released film The Kashmir Files has been banned in Singapore by the country's InfoComm Media Development Authority, on the grounds that it could disturb religious harmony. The Kashmir Files, which was released on March 11, is based on video interviews of the first-generation victims of the persecution experienced by Kashmiri Pandits which led to their exodus. Written and directed by Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri, the exodus drama features Mithun Chakraborty, Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumaar, Pallavi Joshi and Chinmay Mandlekar. The film is produced by Zee Studios and Tej Narayan Agarwal, Abhishek Agarwal, Pallavi Joshi and Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri.

According to Variety, the IMDA said that it had consulted with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the Ministry of Home Affairs, and that they together found the film to have "exceeded the Film Classification Guidelines for its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. "These representations have the potential to cause enmity between different communities and disrupt social cohesion and religious harmony in Singapore's multi-racial and multi-religious society."

The report also added that as per Singapore’s Film Classification guidelines, "any material that is denigrating to racial or religious communities in Singapore" will be refused classification.

The Kashmir Files was briefly banned in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE authorities subsequently reversed their ban at the end of March and the film was released without cuts from April 7. New Zealand had to raise the film's rating from R16 to R18 after concerns were raised by the Muslim community. Multiple state governments including Karnataka announced tax exemption for the film. 

READ: Kashmir is not a file: Propaganda and politics in India

The move to ban The Kashmir Files in Singapore has courted criticism from different sections of viewers. Right-wing organisation Hindu Sena on Tuesday, May 10, urged the Indian government to sever ties with Singapore after the latter banned the screening of Bollywood movie The Kashmir Files in the country. "The film truly depicts the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits that happened three decades ago, and Singapore banning the movie has exposed its true face," Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta told IANS.

Although The Kashmir Files had a good run at the box office, it opened to mixed reviews in India, with several critics, politicians and movie buffs criticizing it as a propaganda film. Earlier in April, Telangana Minister KT Rama Rao had alleged that the BJP is using cinema to target the youth in India and mix nationalism and communalism. In an interview with TV5 news, the Telangana Minister for IT, Urban Development, Industry and Commerce said that even “movies are not being spared” from being used as tools to further BJP’s agenda. He cited movies like the 2019 Vicky Kaushal-starrer Uri, Vivek Agnihotri’s recent release The Kashmir Files and the upcoming Prabhas-starrer Adipurush as examples. 

ALSO READ: How blockbuster films are aiding the Hindutva nationalism project

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