The Kashmir Files: The movie collected Rs 60.20 crore in the first five days.
Director Vivek Agnihotri's hotly-debated Hindi movie 'The Kashmir Files,' which received glowing endorsements from the ruling party and the Prime Minister himself, is racing towards the Rs 100-crore mark. The movie collected Rs 60.20 crore in the first five days. In comparison, one of the biggest recent Bollywood A-list releases, Alia Bhatt's "Gangubai Kathiawadi", took just Rs 57 crore in its first five days of sales last month.
The feature film, with a production budget of Rs 15 crore, is based on the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the Kashmir valley during the height of militancy in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. The movie has generated mixed reactions and has also led to aggressive and tense sloganeering in movie theatres.
Riding on overwhelming government support and tax breaks from several states across the country, the controversial movie has become a runaway success. It has also come under bitter criticism as it's unprecedented for the government to put its weight behind a commercial movie. Moreover, the sensitive political nature of the film and charges of inaccuracy/deliberate misrepresentation of facts has led to accusations of the government indulging in propaganda.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also used the movie as an opportunity to slam his political opponents and critics, alleging that those who oppose it are the ones who tried to hide the truth about the violence inflicted on Hindus in what was India's only Muslim majority state.
"The entire Jamaat (gang) that raised the flag of freedom of expression has been furious for 5-6 days. Instead of reviewing the film on the basis of facts and art, there's a conspiracy to discredit it," he had said.
The film stars Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, and Pallavi Joshi among others.
Almost all BJP ruled states have exempted the film from entertainment tax, with some Chief Ministers even explicitly backing it by personally watching it along with their cabinet ministers and announcing half-day holidays for government employees who want to watch it.
The movie has divided the Kashmiri Hindu community as well, with many thanking the director for showing what they call is their truth. Several news reports from Kashmiri Hindus in Jammu, and even capital Delhi, however, have shown members of the community criticising the movie and saying it will only put them in further danger.
Social media is flooded with videos from both inside and outside movie theatres where people can be seen using abusive slang for Muslims, with a few using strongly provocative language and raising angry slogans.
While many filmmakers have praised Mr Agnihotri for scripting a new formula for commercial success, most of the biggest names have not yet commented on it.
Most Kashmiri Hindus who reacted on social media have welcomed the movie for showing their "pain and suffering". Many have articulated how the movie's success is primarily because of the decades of vacuum in popular media about the issue. Recognition and catharsis for the minority community in Kashmir, combined with popular support of the majority community for the issue in the country, did seem to have carried the movie to box office glory.