Row over Israeli filmmaker's criticism of 'propaganda' Indian movie 'The Kashmir Files'

Row over Israeli filmmaker's criticism of 'propaganda' Indian movie 'The Kashmir Files'
Israel's ambassador to India has clapped back at an Israeli filmmaker who criticised 'The Kashmir Files', a film widely described as 'Hindu-nationalist propaganda'.
3 min read
30 November, 2022
Controversial Bollywood movie 'The Kashmir Files' was released in India earlier this year [ XAVIER GALIANA/AFP via Getty Images]

An Israeli official has rebuked an Israeli filmmaker who criticised The Kashmir Files - a controversial Indian movie promoted by Narendra Modi’s right-wing supporters - after it was included as part of a film festival in India. 

Nadav Lapid, the chief of the jury at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), said he was "shocked" the movie was included at the festival, calling it "propaganda". 

"[The movie] felt to us like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival," The Indian Express quoted him as saying.

Israel's ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, criticised Lapid's comments, tweeting that the filmmaker has "abused in the worst way the Indian invitation to chair the panel of judges at @IFFIGoa as well as the trust, respect and warm hospitality they have bestowed on you".

Released in March and one of India's highest-grossing films this year, The Kashmir Files shows how several hundred thousand Hindus fled Muslim militants in Indian-administered Kashmir in 1989 and 1990.

The movie has been endorsed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and seized on by Hindu hardliners to stir up hatred against India's Muslim minority.

Its supporters claim it sheds light on a neglected part of Kashmiri history, while critics have called it disingenuous and Islamophobic. 

Israel and India have become increasingly close over the past few years, especially since Hindu-nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power.

Modi had a particularly close relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-wing Israeli leader who is likely to return to power following recent elections. 

Jammu and Kashmir is India's only Muslim-majority area, but Pakistan claims it and there is also an independence movement. Armed groups have been fighting against Indian rule for decades.

In 2019, the Modi government revoked Jammu and Kashmir's autonomy and divided it into two territories, imposing a draconian military curfew and arresting hundreds of people. The situation of Kashmiris is often compared to that of Palestinians.