The Kashmir Files actor Pallavi Joshi reacts to opposition to film’s Oscar bid
Pallavi Joshi, actor and producer of The Kashmir Files, reacts to the criticism her film has received and also the opposition to chances of it being sent as India’s entry to the Oscars.
The Kashmir Files emerged as one of the most unexpected hits of 2022. The Vivek Agnihotri film grossed over ₹300 crore on just a ₹15-crore budget with no ‘big stars’ in the cast. And now, it has also found itself among the contenders for India’s pick for the Oscars this year. However, not everyone has been in favour of the film representing India at the global stage.
Filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Dylan Mohan Gray have been pretty verbal in their dislike for the film. Now, Pallavi Joshi, who not just starred in the film but also co-produced it with her husband Vivek (director), has responded to these comments.
Speaking to Hindustan Times about the Oscars buzz surrounding The Kashmir Files, Pallavi says, “For a producer, any film that you produce–especially one that you have spent four years making–becomes your baby. And you certainly don’t want your child to be called names. I’m extremely possessive about The Kashmir Files. So, at this stage if someone tells you your son can become the President of the US, you do feel good. Similarly, when someone says your film should go to the Oscars, I feel really happy.”
The Kashmir Files is a retelling of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley in the late-1980s and early 1990s. The film was praised for its depiction of the conflict and the time period but also criticised by many for presenting what they called a one-sided picture of the issue. Talking about this criticism, Pallavi says, “Because the film also makes a political statement, a lot of people who do not agree with that politics will oppose it.
That’s fine to have differing opinions. That’s what democracy is all about. But an award is about cinematic merit, its cinematic excellence and flaws. Judge the film accordingly. But do so only on its cinematic merit. That is my only request. Don’t bring in any other thing there.”
Pallavi says she is keeping her fingers crossed about the film’s chances at the Oscars but is also nonchalant about it at the same time. “If we make it to the Oscars, I will be ecstatic, over the moon. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to be. But The Kashmir Files wasn’t the only good film made this year. There will be a jury, which will sit and analyse all the films in consideration and decide. There is competition and I love that,” she says with a laugh.
Given The Kashmir Files was about the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits and how they suffered at the hands of fundamentalists and extremists, many criticized the film was exploiting their tragedy and pain for commercial gain. Pallavi says she does not care for these opinions. “I really don’t care what people say,” she says, adding, “What do I say to those who haven’t watched the film? Why did nobody say we are banking on someone’s tragedy when we started the film four years ago? We have gone to people’s homes and heard their tragic stories. I have lived with that pain for four years. Firstly, we didn’t make the film for the Kashmiri Pandit community.
They already know what’s happened to them. They wanted the world to know too and hence, this film was made. So, when we are telling a story about somebody who has been mercilessly butchered and your take is that we are making money off someone’s tears, then so be it. That means you wanted this narrative to stay hidden. You never wanted these people to have a voice. You keep your narrative and I’ll keep mine and we will coexist in the same country.”
Over the last few years, Pallavi has exclusively worked in husband Vivek Agnihotri’s films but she says, the success of The Kashmir Files has made her life busier. “We all look forward to being busier with each passing year,” she says, laughing.
The actor, who started as a child actor, completes 50 years in the film industry next year. In the interim, she has worked in a number of TV shows, films, and even won two National Awards. Talking about her journey, she says, “It’s not just about the amount of time you have spent here but the kind of work you have done here that really helps. I have been a pain as far as my father is considered.
I only picked and chose subjects that really appealed to me. In a career, you often take roles that are about good money and I never went after that. My father would say ‘you are not making money; you have to stand on your own two feet. What are you doing?’ That was the bone of contention between the two of us always. Having said that, I think that is what has made me come thus far.”