Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files – A Review


“Where were you in 1990?” my son asked curiously when he saw us shell-shocked and teary eyed on our return from The Kashmir Files.

“We were here in Delhi,” we mumbled. “In fact, I distinctly remember sitting on the bed with you in my lap and watching the monthly news video, News Track, where Benazir Bhutto bloodthirsty and hoarse gesticulated cutting up into pieces, the then Lt Governor. 

"Jag-Jag-Mo-Mo-Han-Han and the chants of Hum Kya Chahete? Azaadi!” that had frozen my brain with fear at the time - till I heard it again during the CAA Protests when it brought back a flood of memories, this time, enraging me no end.

How they taunt us, were my first thoughts and that anthem Hum Dekhenge that pierced the veneer of sham that we call Secularism in our country.

“Yes, I remember clutching you tight as news filtered to us of family and friends leaving with whatever they could leave for Jammu and other parts of the country”.

“Yes, I remember every story, every murder and the insult of it when TV anchors in newfound celebrity shine justified it all in smooth, dulcet tones”

The empty eyes, blank faces, blistering heat, tents....

And India’s silence.

Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri’s brave, brilliant film The Kashmir Files smashes our complacence, fist-finds-the-jaw moment that shakes our well-oiled first instinct of hunker down and shut up.

The Kashmir Files tells it, as it is. The film makers don’t distance themselves with the usual disclaimers. On the contrary they proudly and defiantly claim ownership of their research and dedication to the subject. 

For those who experienced it and survived. For those who were connected but not present and for those who are vaguely or not aware at all. The truth cannot be ignored after this – ‘No Moving On’, here. 

Till we confront our history and break The Circle of Burden our children will inherit a legacy of being victims. A legacy that perpetuates crimes borne in the past and expected to be taken on the chin in the future. 

Besides the technicalities and the sophistry of cinematography, the art in film making lies in storytelling that draws the viewer in so completely that he belongs to it and the story becomes his.

The characters are people you think you know, in this case you probably do, and every emotion becomes yours. 

Anupam Kher’s Pushkar Nath Pandit sears through the heart. He could be your grandfather, or that old uncle you heard of, who trekked in a Kafila leaving behind land, home, orchards in 1947 and so many times thereafter in our history of riots. ethnic cleansing and genocide. He encapsulates the history of India and in its recent avatar, a Kashmiri Pandit who pines till the end for his home.

In Darshan Kumar’s Krishna Pandit you recognise your own children, their peers. Young people, because of our own cowardice in confronting the truth know so little about who we are, who we were and can be. He is the child you hold close to your chest and hope your heartbeat tells him tales, that you dare not. But only once the vice like grip on your own silence is prised open can he claim ownership and acknowledge his roots. The final monologue is a piece de resistance to which the actor does full justice. 

Quiet but powerful Basha Sumbli’s Sharda represents the civilisation of Kashmir with its trauma and courage. A role played with pathos, subtlety and simplicity that has sledgehammer effect.

In Pallavi Joshi’s brilliant portrayal of Radhika Menon, I recognise my own sweetly manipulative professors of ‘ANU’ as Censors now want the university referred to, in the film. Looking for cracks, feeding on the confused and gullible ...The danger these people pose is no less than those who carry guns. 

Chinmay Mandlekar’s Bitta bites you as it did every time you saw his evil face on your TV screens, feted by politicians and celebrity intellectuals, all the while his lazy eye mocking their stupidity.

The dilemma of a section of the establishment that witnessed the unfolding of the genocide and later the exodus is ably represented by Mithun Chakraborty, Puneet Issar, Prakash Belawadi and Atul Srivastava. The mesh of past and present is untangled, thread by thread through them, while they question their own motives.

The Kashmir Files is a film that India cannot afford to ignore.

May a thousand Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri’s bloom! May our stories, written in blood, resound in every corner of this planet. 

By keeping silent we are complicit, twice over.


Film critic Anupama Chopra’s company wrote a shallow, embarrassingly puerile review on The Kashmir Files.

Here is a thread I wrote on her husband Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s interview on TV before his film Shikhara was released in January 2020.


  1. The best review I've read on The Kashmir Files film 🙏

  2. Reading your piece gives so much of pain and feeling of helplessness. Was it not betrayal ? Hope and pray this movie opens the eyes of every particle of this nation to ensure no such suffering happens again. I did follow the news then but these incidents were so heinous never came out in public domain. How the system played its role in keeping it under cover is astonishing and sickening.

    1. Agree. India has been betrayed many times over by its own...

  3. It's so heartening and relieving for all of us Darshan Kumar's to have witnessed The Kashmir Files in our lifetime. We had waited patiently and till date have not taken up arms, but a eunuch state has made the plight of our KP brethren and sisters to get blurred in oblivion. On emotional chord that nobody dared to touch has now been viciously stirred. Hoping this does not end here and the new voices and the movement this film starts provides justice to the decades of humiliation and ignominy that the KPs have endured.

  4. I wish that we had then had Social Media of the kind that we have now. Perhaps, India would have become different than from what it has been since then till a few years ago.

    1. We were worldwide in the same boat. Led like sheep...!

  5. Ma'am re your comments on RR please see this article...

  6. Speechless, what a review Nandini Ma'am! Take a bow. 🙏🙏🙏

  7. As always no one comes any where close to your review. Precise. Penetrative & relatable.

  8. You sum up the characters so well. May thousand Vivek bloom.

  9. I have seen this movie twice.Brilliant work done by the director and leading actors! Here I must say we don't mix it with Bollywood MASALA films,rather a section of audiences have watch the movie to proved what had happened in 1990 on Kashmir Valley by Pak sponsored Islamic terrorists to thrown out Kashmiri Hindu Pandits from their own land just one overnight on 19 the January.Truth and justice must prevail.

  10. Nandini ji, would like to remind you of that scene where Pushkar Nath,having missed his meals for the education of his grand child, asks the visiting minister,not for any dole, but for after shaving cream. This is to convey that KPs don't look for his help but display their esteem symbolised by "shaving cream". This is a true incident only that the visiting guy was the then CM Mr Mufti Mohd Syed accompanied by the Chief Secretary Mr Vijay Bakaya. He has been given credit for this in the movie. Also Mr Anupam Kher mentioning the house number of his maternal uncle Mr Kak, 84 Karan Nagar, is a message for the cabal who say that he is not a Kashmiri. Incidently my house number is 59 Karan Nagar...

  11. Wonderful review. "veneer of sham that we call Secularism in our country" very aptly put. This one word was so much ingrained in our minds that we refused to accept anything else. Thank God SM has ripped off the mask better late then never.
    Thanks mam. 🙏

  12. By drinking the "let's move on" opiate, we are only preparing our necks for the next slaughter or genocide. We "moved on" after the 1947 carnage and Kashmir happened. We "moved on" after the Kashmir genocide and Godhra, then Delhi happened.

    Well may scum like Arvind Kejriwal laugh mockingly at genocide. This son of multiple fathers knows we will "move on".

    Or perhaps we have no intention of "moving on" anymore. I remember reading somewhere that when the Hindus get really pissed off there is hell to pay.


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