Israel's ambassador to India today publicly denounced a filmmaker from his country who called 'The Kashmir Files' a "propaganda" and "vulgar movie" at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. Envoy Naor Gilon also apologized to India in an "open letter" on Twitter, a day after filmmaker Nadav Lapid, who is heading the festival jury, slammed the movie at the closing ceremony of the festival yesterday.
'The Kashmir Files', directed by Vivek Agnihotri, revolves around the exodus and killing of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley in 1990. It has been mired in controversy since its release in March, with many calling it a poignant depiction of a tragic period and critics alleging it is loose with facts.
An open letter to #NadavLapid following his criticism of #KashmirFiles. It's not in Hebrew because I wanted our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand. It is also relatively long so I'll give you the bottom line first. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED. Here's why: pic.twitter.com/8YpSQGMXIR— Naor Gilon (@NaorGilon) November 29, 2022
"An open letter to #NadavLapid following his criticism of #KashmirFiles. It's not in Hebrew because I wanted our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand. It is also relatively long so I'll give you the bottom line first. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED. Here's why," tweeted Lapid this morning.
Gilon said Lapid abused the Indian invitation to the judges' panel in the "worst way".
"In Indian culture, they say that a guest is like God. You have abused in the worst way the Indian invitation to chair the panel of judges at @IFFIGoa as well as the trust, respect, and warm hospitality they have bestowed on you," he added.
Nadav Lapid had yesterday said the jurors at the film festival were "disturbed and shocked" by 'The Kashmir Files'. "That felt to us like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival," he said. Facing a huge backlash over the critique, the jury has distanced itself from his remarks, calling them his "personal opinion".
The Israeli envoy said his country men should be humble as Indians are consuming a lot of Israeli content, including the 'Fauda' TV series. "I'm no film expert but I do know that it's insensitive and presumptuous to speak about historic events before deeply studying them and which are an open wound in India because many of the involved are still around and still paying a price," he said in a long thread of tweets.
Gilon said he was "extremely hurt" to see the reactions in India that Lapid was doubting 'Schindler's List', a movie based on the Holocaust.
"I unequivocally condemn such statements. There is no justification. It does show the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue here," said the envoy. "From your interview to Ynet the connection you make between your criticism of #KashmirFiles and your dislike to what is happening in Israeli politics was quite evident."
India-Israel ties are very strong and will survive the "damages" inflicted by his remarks, Gilon said in his tweets addressed to Lapid.
"As a human being I feel ashamed and want to apologize to our hosts for the bad manner in which we repaid them for their generosity and friendship," said the envoy.
A BIG thank you Ambassador @NaorGilon . Deeply humbled by your support. You speak for every Indian. The pain & trauma depicted in the film is not a display of distorted history but what Kasmiri pundits actually went through. Your words act like a balm of comfort. Truly humbled 🙏— KhushbuSundar (@khushsundar) November 29, 2022
BJP leader Khushbu Sundar thanked Gilon and said his words acted like a "balm of comfort". "The pain and trauma depicted in the film is not a display of distorted history but what Kasmiri pundits actually went through," she said.