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‘Someone needs to speak up…’: Nadav Lapid defends ‘Kashmir Files’ remark

Israel filmmaker Nadav Lapid – whose criticism this week of ‘The Kashmir Files‘ as ‘vulgar’ and ‘propaganda’ led to a row and pushback from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party – on Wednesday defended his remarks and insisted ‘someone needs to speak up’. Speaking to Israeli news website Ynet via the telephone, Lapid said the fury that followed his Monday remarks was ‘crazy’ but the award-winning filmmaker underlined that he had been left shocked by the ‘transparent combination between propaganda and fascism and vulgarity’.

Lapid on Monday said ‘The Kashmir Files’ – which writer/director Vivek Agnihotri says is a movie based on Kashmiri Pandits’ exodus from the Valley in the 1990s, when militancy was rampant – was a ‘propagandist movie inappropriate for an artistic, competitive section of such a prestigious film festival (the International Film Festival of India that was held in Goa)’.

READ | ‘Vulgar, propaganda’: IFFI jury head Nadav Lapid on ‘Kashmir Files’

The remarks triggered a furious reaction from Israeli diplomats, including ambassador Naor Gilon, who said Lapid should be ‘ashamed’ and accused him of abusing Indian hospitality. Gilon also demanded Lapid apologise to India.

READ | On ‘Kashmir Files’ row, Israeli diplomat has ‘different opinion’

Many also criticised the remarks on grounds the Jewish community also endured a similarly horrific incident – the Holocaust, in which some believe around six million Jews were killed.

The intensity of the pushback appears to have startled Lapid, who told Ynet: “It is crazy… what is going on here. It was broadcast live on television” but doubled down on his statement.

“It is a film the Indian government… if it didn’t actually initiate… at least pushed it in an unusual way… it basically justifies Indian policy in Kashmir and has fascist features.”

In his interview (translated from Hebrew) Lapid also said: “The claim is there… that the dimensions of the event are hidden by intellectuals and media. And it is always the same – there is a foreign enemy and there are traitors from within.”

WATCH | ‘Kashmir Files propaganda movie’: Israeli filmmaker sparks row

Lapid was asked if he anticipated so massive a row and acknowledged that he did feel troubled by having to criticise the film at ‘an event (where) everyone stands there and praises the government’.

“I knew that this was an event that is terribly connected… everyone praises the government. It is not an easy position – because you are a guest… you are treated very nicely… and then you come and attack the festival. There was apprehension, and there was discomfort..”

“Let’s put it this way… I’m happy to be on my way to the airport now.”

READ | Who is Nadav Lapid, Israeli filmmaker who called ‘Kashmir Files’ ‘vulgar’

Lapid, however, stressed that he felt it necessary to speak up.

“In countries (where people) are increasingly losing the ability to speak your mind… someone needs to speak. When I saw this film, I couldn’t help but imagine its Israeli equivalent… doesn’t exist but could definitely exist,” he said.

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