After two weeks of unnecessary controversy created by few who wanted to suppress the pain and lived experience of Kashmiri Hindus the Bollywood film the Kashmir Files has been reclassified and audiences aged 18 or older will be able to see it in cinemas next week.
New Zealand’s Chief Censor David Shanks announced the change after spending the week speaking to a range of community representatives, viewing the film and consulting with overseas classification offices.
“I watched the film, and I am satisfied that it does not promote extremism or violence in a way that would require it to be classified as objectionable (banned) in New Zealand,”said Mr Shanks.
However, He thinks an R18 restriction is warranted given the nature and intensity of the violence and terrorists cruelty depicted. This age restriction is consistent with what the film received in Australia and India.
“Members of the Muslim community I spoke to are concerned the film would negatively affect them and Hindu representatives felt strongly that the film showed an important part of their history,”added Mr David Shanks.
The Kashmir Files is a 2022 Indian Hindi-language drama film about the genocide and exodus of Hindu people during the Kashmir Insurgency in 1990. It has been released in other countries with varying age restrictions.
The film was initially classified as R16 in New Zealand but a review was conducted after concerns were raised by members of the Muslim community in New Zealand.
Achla Datar is Operations Manager with Zee Studios for Australia, NZ and Fiji.
Achala told The Australia Today, “I am so grateful to New Zealand Hindus who supported us in our pursuit of their lived experience to come out and be shown on screen.”
“No one can stop the truth from coming out,”said Ms Datar
Parijaat Kaul a Kashmiri Pandit who’s family had to flee their home of several generations after it was attacked by Islamic terrorist in 1990 lives in Auckland.
Mr Kaul told The Australia Today, “The Kashmir File is my story, it’s my family and friends story.”
“How can someone be so insensitive to stop us from telling the world what we went through?”questioned Mr Kaul
“Today, I am experiencing same when some thugs tell us that we are the one spreading hate not the Islamic terrorists who told us to leave, convert or die,” said Mr Kaul.
Chief Censor David Shanks said “I know this decision will disappoint some members of the Hindu community that I spoke with, who believe that the film has historical value and should be released with no age restriction. Similarly, some members of the Muslim community were of the view that the risk of harm that it posed meant that it should not be screened at all. I hear and understand both perspectives.”
“The community leaders that I spoke to about this made it clear to me that they do not condone or tolerate expressions of hatred or oppression in their communities, and they are prepared to play their part to ensure the film doesn’t prompt this. I believe them, and I think there is an opportunity here to build understanding and social cohesion, rather than erode it.
“My Office will provide information detailing the reasons for the decision and the process to seek a review by The Film and Literature Board of Review, as well as other information about support and help available,” David Shanks said.
Achla Datar said, “It is a simple civil right to be able to watch a movie, and I am glad it has been upheld by New Zealand’s Chief Censor.”