Monthly plan to access Budget

Journalism of Courage
Advertisement

The Kashmir Files row: IFFI jury chair has a right to criticise the film

What is a film festival where an artist, especially one invited to chair a jury, can't speak his mind? India-Israel bilateral ties do not not hang by the slender thread of a film review

Israel's ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, took it upon himself to give Lapid a tongue lashing and apologise to India for the offence caused by the filmmaker's remarks.

Over the seven decades of its existence, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) has developed into a prestigious show by a country that makes more films than any other in the world. It may not be a Cannes or Berlin, and despite being a government-run show, the IFFI has the convening power to attract some of the world’s best cinema and filmmakers aside from providing coveted space to India’s own best. As such, multiple views, not all of the same shade, are bound to be aired and exchanged. Thus it was natural that a film director of the eminence of Nadav Lapid, who headed the jury for the international competitive section, would have strong views about films and cinema. Presumably, this is what made him the right choice to chair the jury of the showcase segment of the film festival.

Lapid’s opinion of the film The Kashmir Files, which he described as “vulgar propaganda”, may not have gone down well with many who packed cinema halls earlier this year to see it and who saw, in the film, the breaking of a long silence — over the treatment of minority Kashmiri Hindus — in popular art. Of course, it is odd that a losing film was singled out for criticism — jury speeches are usually about the winners. Moreover, one of the jury members has come out to say that this wasn’t, as Lapid claims, a consensus view. But then what is a film festival where an artist, especially one invited to chair a jury, can’t speak his mind? Lapid, who has never made the specious claim of being “apolitical” — a term celebrities often use to mask their political choices — is not known for mincing his words including in his own country, Israel. Those who run the IFFI should know that without this freedom that top practitioners of the art like to take for granted, its annual celebration of India’s formidable soft power will be just another polite back-scratching film awards night. So the Lapid controversy must not become a justification for the IFFI to pack the jury with the like-minded.

Israel’s ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, took it upon himself to give Lapid a tongue lashing and apologise to India for the offence caused by the filmmaker’s remarks. This was uncalled for diplomatic intervention in a matter that had nothing to do with him or the Israeli state. For one, Lapid did not identify his views as those of Israel. More importantly, India-Israel ties, do not not hang by the slender thread of a film review even if it was promoted by government leaders as a must-watch. As two countries that have come together in a considered and deliberate way to build their bilateral relationship over the last three decades, their ties are surely strong enough to shrug off Lapid’s remarks as par for the democratic course.

Subscriber Only Stories
First published on: 30-11-2022 at 06:20 IST
Next Story

Kiren Rijiju and the Collegium debate: The battle between the judiciary and the executive

Home
ePaper
Next Story
close
X