Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stirred up a heated controversy a few days back, when he used productive hours of Delhi Assembly to criticise and mock Vivek Agnihotri’s highly sensitive film The Kashmir Files. In response to the pleas to make The Kashmir Files tax-free in Delhi, Kejriwal asked the filmmaker to put the film on YouTube, so that everyone can watch it for free. He went on to criticise Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for supporting the film, and even ridiculed the film on the ground that it was full of lies. He also mentioned that his Government will not even promote or put the poster of the film, and advised BJP leaders to avoid promoting a mere film.
This insensitivity towards a sensitive film from Kejriwal has surprised many, as he has been known to promote Bollywood films every now and then. There is a huge list of films, which he has promoted through his twitter account. He has often been called as the politician-turned- film critic, because of his regular tweets on reviews and recommendations of Bollywood movies. Apart from promoting movies, Kejriwal has also been generous enough to make several Bollywood films tax-free.
The list of Hindi films recommended by Kejriwal is long. Swara Bhasker’s Nil Battey Sannata, Taapsee Pannu’s Saand Ki Aankh, and Ranveer Singh’s 83 were all declared tax-free by Kejriwal in Delhi. Irrfan Khan’s Madaari, Sreedevi’s Mom, Aamir Khan’s PK, Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar, Hrithik Roshan’s Bang Bang, Amitabh Bachchan’s Satyagraha, Shirish Kunder’s Kriti, Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja, Vicky Kaushal’s Masaan, Akshay Kumar’s Gabbar is Back, Naeem Siddiqui’s Humne Gandhi Ko Maar Diya, Shahid Kapoor’s Udta Punjab, Nitin Chandra’s Once Upon a Time in Bihar, were fortunate enough to be positively reviewed by Delhi CM Kejriwal.
Taking up Film Critic’s Job
A social media user even compiled several such film reviews from Arvind Kejriwal where he had recommended films to the public like a film critic. Kejriwal has given the rating of ‘Must Watch’ to all the films he has promoted in his tenure of CM till date, but never recommended a ‘YouTube release’ to any of them before. This definitely raises many questions! How can a Chief Minister who has a deep interest in films, not just as a viewer but also as a critic, can be so inconsiderate towards a particular film? How can he mock a film with a delicate issue, that too from a responsible place like Assembly? How can he tag a film to be full of lies that is being loved by masses for showing the untold truth? How can he, along with his MLAs, laugh out loud in Assembly on Kashmiri Hindus’ brutal genocide?
Lamenting Anguish of Kashmiri Hindus
Actor Anupam Kher, who is currently being appreciated worldwide for his performance in The Kashmir Files, has hit back at Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.
Reacting to Delhi Chief Minister’s crude statement, actor Anupam Kher, who played the lead role in The Kashmir Files and won over film buffs by depicting the plight of minority community during the 1990s genocide and exodus has said, “After Kejriwal’s statement, I think every true Indian should go and watch this film in the theatre. The only way you can give a resounding response to his insensitivity is by collecting more money and connecting with more people from Kashmir.”
Kher further added, “He (Arvind Kejriwal) was crude, insensitive and he didn’t think about the lakhs of Kashmiri Hindus who were thrown out of their own homes, women raped and people murdered. The people behind him were laughing and it was shameless. That was also happening in the State Assembly…If he wants to have a political problem with the Prime Minister or the BJP, he should have just spoken about that. But to bring in The Kashmir Files which the people are accepting, feeling guilty, and saying ‘We didn’t know this happened to us’…to say that it is a propaganda film or it is a lie I think it was shameful.”
Pointing out that Kejriwal has not even watched the film, Anupam said, “It’s not that he hasn’t made films tax-free. Recently, he made 83 tax-free. He does believe that a film that is good should be made. But this film has gone beyond tax-free, it’s a movement. To rub salts on wounds of people who have suffered for the last 32 years is unbecoming of a Chief Minister. He was playing to the gallery, he was trying to do a stand-up comedian’s job over there… He should not come across as a caricature, he is a real person, he is an educated person, he is an IRS officer. Ek anpadh gawaar aadmi bhi aisi baat nahi karta hai (An uneducated person also doesn’t talk like this). It was not done.”
Rubbing Salt Into Wounds of Community
As Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently said in the Assembly that hardcore patriotism, honesty and humanity are the pillars of the Aam Aadmi Party’s ideology, Bollywood filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri could not quite agree on the point of ‘humanity’ and raised doubts on social media. The tweet comes after Kejriwal was accused of insulting Kashmiri Pandits during his Assembly speech. Earlier too, Agnihotri reacted to Kejriwal’s statement on making The Kashmir Files tax-free and said, “Many people even want God should come to earth.” He further said, “There are people who are fools, then there are mad and then there are idiots. All these three categories of people should be avoided; they should not be answered.”
How can a Chief Minister, who has a deep interest in films not just as a viewer but also as a critic, can be so inconsiderate towards a particular film? How can he mock a film with a delicate issue, that too from a responsible place like Assembly? How can he tag a film to be full of lies that is being loved by masses for showing the untold truth? How can he, along with his MLAs, laugh out loud in Assembly on Kashmiri Hindus’ brutal genocide?
Opposition leader of Delhi Legislative Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri slammed Kejriwal and said that Assembly is not the platform to express your personal hatred and politics. This place is to discuss welfare plans and schemes. Kejriwal always keeps conducting so many press conferences to speak out his resentment. He also said that the kind of development that took place in Kashmir in the past seven years has not taken place in the previous 60 years.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing National Secretary Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga has been the torchbearer in the party’s protest. He has been actively criticising Chief Minister Kejriwal for his statement over The Kashmir Files, on his Twitter account, and getting a huge support from masses. He said that the national president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha Tejasvi Surya has been leading the protest at the Chief Minister’s residence. Bagga said the protest is mainly against Kejriwal’s statement calling the movie “a lie and making fun in the Assembly.” BJP leaders have been protesting continuously after the speech of Kejriwal, through different media platforms.
After Kejriwal’s Assembly speech triggered this controversy, the Delhi Chief Minister attempted for a damage control, and said that for him, Kashmiri Pandits are important, not the movie. “Isn’t it insensitive that BJP even after 8 years of being in power has to promote a movie, has to put up its posters? We were not laughing at Kashmiri Pandits, but at the BJP. The Kashmir Files may be important for the BJP, but for me Kashmiri Pandits are important,” Kejriwal, later said in an interview, “Had I been at the Centre, I would not have made a film on them, but hold their hand and take them to Kashmir from where they were ousted,” Kejriwal added.
Liking or disliking a film can definitely be Kejriwal’s personal choice, but his statements given from Assembly as a Chief Minister can surely not. Every word of his holds a responsibility towards the people of his State, as he is an elected CM, and not just an ordinary citizen. Also, when he has spent most of the tenure as Chief Minister reviewing the films, his advice to BJP leaders to not promoting a film is surely beyond logic. With this behaviour, he himself has exposed his anti-Hindu ideology and politics of hatred.