Vivek Agnihotri: If I make film supporting terrorists, I can move around freely and attend Jaipur Literature Festival

Aug 11, 2023 04:14 PM IST

Vivek Agnihotri talks about his new web series, The Kashmir Files Unreported and all the challenges he faced while making it before the 2022 film.

Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, who delivered a 350-crore blockbuster in The Kashmir Files last year, is now back with a web series, The Kashmir Files Unreported. The trailer hints that the show will have real Kashmiri Pandits sharing their heartbreaking experience from the violence they witnessed in Kashmir, the time they left their home behind, and all they lost in between. Vivek says it was a major challenge to make them open up since they trust no one. Also read: The Kashmir Files Unreported trailer: Vivek Agnihotri says new web series will be more ‘heart-wrenching’ than film

Vivek Agnihotri talks about The Kashmir Files Unreported in Delhi.
Vivek Agnihotri talks about The Kashmir Files Unreported in Delhi.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, Vivek talked about the purpose of the series which was actually shot before the The Kashmir Files and was the reason why the film was conceived in the first place. Excerpts:

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Is the web series made from the uncensored content of The Kashmir Files or what could not be included due to the film length, or it only comprises of the real accounts of real people?

All three, I would say. This is definitely the uncensored, unreported, more than uncensored and whatever media failed to report in last 32 years. Second thing is that, this is all the raw honest as is data, research and testimonials of the victims of Kashmiri Hindu genocide which we have put in docu series format and it's going to be for the world to see and judge for themselves. The third thing is, I have been challenging everybody since The Kashmir Files that show me one dialogue, one scene, one shot or one sentence in the film which is not true. This is going to shut everybody’s mouth because this is the only truth.

Watch: Vivek Agnihotri On The Kashmir Files Unreported And Controversies Surrounding Him

So what should the audience brace themselves for?

First, very raw and honest truth. Second thing is that you will cry. Of course, you can't see so much pain. But at the same time, you will also know how cruel are those people who have hidden such truth from us. How cruel and vicious and sinister these people are who support terrorism in Kashmir.

Will The Kashmir Files Unreported have that gory violence we saw in the film?

No, because there (in the film) we could create something. We were not present when the violence was taking place, so obviously we do not have (visible violence in the show), but you will feel the presence of that violence. You will understand that violence by looking at the eyes of the victims.

So what challenges did you face while making this show?

It was not easy because to make the victims open up their heart in front of you is very difficult thing to do, especially when they were cheated by the society, by the government, by the media and the intellectuals. They couldn't trust anyone. The biggest problem with Kashmiri Pandit community was the victims had trust deficit. So break open, take them into confidence, make them trust you so that they tell you honestly…it was a very big challenge.

Money was a very big challenge. We had no money behind us, God knows how we made it happen. I don't even want to go back to those nightmares or bankruptcy.

Then the biggest one was the physical challenge, which is the fatwas, death threats and security issues. In a democratic country like India, to make a film on your own people's victimization and their genocide or making a film against terrorism, you have to walk with security. But if I make a film supporting terrorists, then I can move around freely and attend Jaipur Literature Festival.

The Kashmir Files did exceptionally well commercially. Was it made before the film?

First series was made. We interviewed and researched and we made it in this format thinking that we will make a docu series out of it or a documentary out of it. And then we said, ‘Oh my God, this is such an important story. Why not put it like a feature film so that it reaches masses and everybody can watch it.’

It's good that we made the feature film first. People are going to watch this internationally now. When it comes on ZEE5 on August 11, everybody is going to watch because of The Kashmir Files. But if it was the other way round then perhaps people wouldn't have watched it as much.

What would be your response to the people who may call it fake?

Do you really care about everybody on the street? Who are those people? Do they matter? You show me one person who says terrorism is bad in Kashmir, Hindu genocide happened and still The Kashmir Files is not a good film. You bring me one person like that, I will sit on his feet and listen to whatever he says. But anybody who says Kashmir should be free, who says that abrogation of Article 370 is wrong, and anybody who says that terrorist was a poor teacher's son and still criticizes my film, I just give a damn to such people. They are the enemies of this nation. They are intellectual enemies of humanity. They don't have guns and AK47, but they are very bad, vicious and sinister people.

Did you face any struggle when you were taking this to an OTT platform?

Let us not get into that area, I would not talk about negative people. But ZEE5 gave me total freedom, confidence and I am very happy that they are also promoting it on front foot without any fear. Had it been with any multinational OTT, they would have killed the product.

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