Bollywood Reviews, Movie Reviews

The Kashmir Files (2022) Review: A Heart-Wrenching Tale Of The Exodus Of Kashmiri Pandits

The Kashmir Files is a fictional story that is based on real-life incidents of the exodus of Hindus from the Kashmir valley due to the Muslim militant insurgency in the region. The film stars Darshan Kumar, Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Chinmay Mandelkar, Bhasha Sumbli and Pallavi Joshi. The Kashmir Files is in theaters all across India as of March 11, 2022.

The Kashmir Files (2022) Official Trailer:

The Good:

An Awareness Movie For The Generation Z

Generation Z in India, those born after 1990, may not be aware of the horrific incidents which the Kashmiri Pandits had to face due to the sudden uprising of Muslim militants. Bollywood did not hesitate even a bit to portray such events in The Kashmir Files. What you will see in this movie is the naked truth!

Anupam kher as Pushkar Nath Pandit in his Lord Shiva avatar in The Kashmir Files

The Kashmir Files has received severe opposition from Muslim groups who claim it to be “Islamophobic”. I have a question for people belonging to those groups. What the Muslim militants did to the Kashmiri Hindus during 1990, wasn’t that “Hinduphobic”? Why would Muslims resort to barbarism and kill and drive away Hindus from the region? Whether someone is a Hindu or a Muslim, the fact is that we are all humans and we are supposed to co-exist in peace. As humans, it is completely immoral and unethical to indulge in territorial disputes because dogs are supposed to have territories, not we humans!

By indulging in such territorial disputes and randomly killing Hindus, the Muslims of Kashmir have degraded their own religion. And when a person criticizes the barbaric Hindu genocide caused by the Muslims, people start addressing that as “Islamophobic”.

Also, why address this movie as “Islamophobic” when it has been made with the consent of people from both religions? You will be amazed to learn that the actor who played Karan Pandit in The Kashmir Files, his real name is Amaan Iqbal, and he is a Muslim who played the role of a Hindu in the movie. Another astonishing fact is that Chinmay Mandelkar who played the barbaric Muslim militant Farooq is actually a Hindu in real life!

Unbelievable Performances

I must say; Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, and Chinmay Mandelkar gave stupendous performances. The entire screenplay of The Kashmir Files looked real to me as if things were actually happening! Upon watching the movie, for quite some time I forgot that they were acting. Things were appearing as if some cameraman had stealthily captured the horrific crimes and broadcast them in the form of a movie. This essence of reality in the screenplay was solely due to the terrific performances given by the lead cast.

Anupam Kher and Mithun Chakraborty are veteran actors in Bollywood. Their acting skills have no comparison and they are renowned for playing character roles very efficiently. So they did in The Kashmir Files. Chinmay Mandelkar as the ruthless Hindu destroyer Farooq Malik Bitta gave an astounding performance. His character of the savage militant Farooq will make you hate him and appreciate his performance as well. You are sure to remain glued throughout this movie solely because of the realistic and hair-raising cold-blooded scenes he gave.

Bhasha Sumbli’s performance is worth the appreciation. I can’t imagine what this actress had to go through in her character of Sharda Pandit. Sharda was a victim of torture at the hands of Farooq and she was stripped down, humiliated, and ruthlessly murdered by him. Bollywood news reports reveal that the blood pressure of this actress went low while shooting the horrific scenes for the movie.

Bhasha Sumbli as Sharda Pandit in The Kashmir Files

Last but not the least; Darshan Kumar carried out his role of Krishna Pandit quite efficiently. He is supposed to be the central character or you can say, the “hero” of this movie. However, in spite of giving a good performance, his personality, body language, and dialogue delivery are not too praiseworthy. Besides, I never appreciate a hero who doesn’t perform some action scenes in his movies. Destroying villains is all that I desire to watch. Jokes apart!

The Credit Goes To Vivek Agnihotri

Vivek Agnihotri is the man behind The Kashmir Files. He is the director, co-writer as well as a co-producer of this superhit movie. Agnihotri has proved himself again as one of the master directors in Bollywood with this movie. His 2019 movie The Tashkent Files which was written, directed, and co-produced by him, was a super hit at the Box office. So, is The Kashmir Files in 2022.

Krishna’s speech at his university’s campus

The Bad:

The Ending: Is That It?!

The climax of The Kashmir Files was not as I expected. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if Krishna had considered taking vengeance on Farooq for ruthlessly murdering his family. But no! Krishna being the timid and fragile hero of this movie, simply accused Farooq and came back to his university and gave an awareness speech. Didn’t he even care to seek vengeance on the tyrant who brutally murdered his family and chopped his mother alive into two?! How can he digest the whole thing? Where is the action that I desire, where Krishna becomes a daredevil like Bollywood action hero “Sunny Deol” and demolishes Farooq and his tyrannous reign?

But I must agree, all movies are not alike. I think Vivek Agnihotri wanted to make The Kashmir Files more realistic and practical. The Kashmir Files is a kind of awareness movie about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, not an action-oriented one. But it will also instill a lot of thrill in your minds as it is bundled with scenes of brutality! But personally, I did not enjoy the climax.

If action and stunt scenes would have been introduced in this movie, this would have turned out to be another Bollywood-style spiced-up action drama that would have made the movie lose its practicality. After all, it’s the filmmakers who know what best to do for the movie, not me! But I must tell you; had I been one of the filmmakers of The Kashmir Files, then this movie would have been a lot different as compared to what it is now. It would have then been a “historical action-drama” rather than just a “historical drama”!

The Screenplay Loses Flow

If you are not accustomed to watching Bollywood movies, the screenplay of The Kashmir Files might confuse you. The scenes in the movie continuously switch back and forth from the period 1989-1990 to 2020. If you are not very much familiar with the actual Kashmiri Hindu exodus incidents which happened in early 1990, you may not be able to understand this movie owing to its fluctuating screenplay.

A scene from The Kashmir Files

I believe that if Agnihotri had considered showcasing the incidents in The Kashmir Files in a sequential manner, it would have made the movie much more understandable for the worldwide audience. Besides, this movie runs for 2 hours and 50 minutes. I must confess that watching a fluctuating screenplay for this much duration can be torturous!

The Cinematography Was Not Appealing

The cinematography of The Kashmir Files appeared gloomy and unappealing to me. As this happens to be a dark historical drama showcasing the pain and trauma of the Kashmiri Pandits during the exodus, I feel cinematographer Udaysingh Mohite might have considered making the cinematography dull and unimpressive to resemble the harsh circumstances shown in the movie. But this didn’t do the depressing movie any good! Instead, this dull and sullen cinematography gave me an even more depressing watching experience.

The Verdict:

Sharda’s torture and murder scene from The Kashmir Files

The Kashmir Files has been endorsed and promoted explicitly by the Indian government which is responsible for its huge commercial success. As this film has been endorsed by the government, it has been declared tax-free in various states like Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Goa.

However, several people have criticized The Kashmir Files saying that it not only is Islamophobic but also acts as an ignition to the fire that burns deep inside the heart of every Hindu. If you ask me, I will opine that the film does get monotonous to some extent if you consider omitting the horrifying scenes. But still, this movie is bound to make you emotional owing to the heart-touching incidents shown.

But I still appreciate Agnihotri for bringing out the key message through The Kashmir Files that the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits in early 1990 was actually a genocide. The movie’s lead villain, Farooq Malik Bitta, has been inspired by two popular Kashmiri militants Farooq Ahmed Dar and Yasin Malik rolled into one. The Kashmir Files is not the only movie made by Bollywood to depict the plight of The Kashmiri Pandits. There is a Bollywood movie titled “Shikara” released in 2020 which is based on the love story of a Kashmiri Pandit couple during the 1990 Kashmir insurgency.

The film does go the extra mile to promote “Hindutva” as Pushkar Nath Pandit can be seen in his Lord Shiva avatar in certain scenes while he gets tortured by the militants. The Kashmir Files is basically an awareness movie on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits during the exodus. I advise you to go for this movie only if you are ready to accept practicality because certain scenes may depress or even aggravate you. The movie runs in theaters across India. You can also opt to watch it over Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

  • Acting - 10/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 7/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7.5/10
  • Watchability - 7.5/10
  • Rewatchability - 6.5/10
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