Industry bigwigs silent as The Kashmir Files is unstoppable

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Darshan Kumaar and Anupam Kher as Kashmiri Pandits in The Kashmir Files. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

At a pre-release press conference for The Kashmir Files, producer-writer-director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri had spoken about the phenomenal response to it when the film was screened in USA for the Kashmiri Pandits and various professional and ethnic groups. And what could have been termed as tall claims by a filmmaker with limited resources to promote his movie have now been more than vindicated by the fact that The Kashmir Files is unstoppable.

From a paltry 650 screens across the country on its release on March 11, the film, by popular demand, grew to 4000 screens by the end of the first week! From a meager Rs. 3.50 crore nett (after deduction of Entertainment Tax) all-India collection on Day 1, the film rose to Rs. 8.5 crore on day 2, and more than 4 times opening day figure of Rs. 15.10 crore on first Sunday.

Here is the daily list of collection all-India that continued to spiral upward: Day 4: Rs. 15.05 crore, Day 5: Rs. 18 crore, Day 6: Rs. 19.05 crore, Day 7: Rs.19.5 crore and Day 8 (Second Friday / Holi holiday): Rs. 20.1 crore (the film is the 6th all-time highest second week Friday grosser). Going by advance booking trends, the figure for the 9th day (as yet not updated) is likely to be in the vicinity of Rs. 23 crore. And as the 10th day is a Sunday, trade pundits are expecting a total nett collection of a staggering Rs. 160 core by then!

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In a statement reiterated after his claim before release (when he could not have expected this sheer quantum of craze), director, writer and co-producer Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri has declared that all profits from the film will go to the cause of the community he has decided to back.

And this is by no means all. It was the beginning of a juggernaut that thrust aside flimsy competition like the lavishly-mounted Radhey Shyam, even taking on hits like Gangubai Kathiawadi and affecting the number of screens for the Sajid Nadidawala-Akshay Kumar biggie, Bacchhan Paandey, which, reportedly, also had to make do with 3000 screens, about 1000 less than what it could have opened at in a non­-TKF scenario! Jhund and even the Hollywood blockbuster Batman have suffered in the path as TKF has slaughtered the competition. In Hyderabad, the film is on 230 shows in week 2, versus Bachchhan Paandey getting 150!

Termed by many as a “movement” or “mission” more than a film, the movie has been exempted from Entertainment Tax in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Goa and Karnataka.

Bouquets and brickbats

Having said that, the film has polarized the industry like nothing else did before. Most of the bigwigs are silent on both the film and its success. They ignored the movie before release and are also stunned by its roaring march. Actors Gauahar Khan and Adil Hussain have been trolled for criticizing the movie. Kapil Sharma, who declined to promote the film on his The Kapil Sharma Show, was however, given a clean chit by actor and Kashmiri Pandit, Anupam Kher, who said that the content of the film could not have been ideal for such a comedy show that Kapil does very well.

Meanwhile, a Congress leader has spoken against the gruesome violence shown in the film, though Vivek has stated that his film—each and every incident and scene—is based on complete truth garnered from video recordings of Kashmiri Pandits, their families who reside everywhere around the world, and others (including officials) who were living in Kashmir at the time.

Another remark has come from Omar Abdullah, who asked why the carnage was blamed on his father and then-chief minister, Farooq Abdullah, when he was not in power when the migrations began. The fact was that he had resigned just a day before (January 18, 1990) the holocaust began (January 19), and a BJP leader said that it was “as if on cue”!

In a media meet in Delhi, Vivek also revealed that it took him and his team four years to research and finally make the movie, and the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD) helped him find and locate the Kashmiri Pandits, many of whom were the direct victims of the violence in Kashmir.

Meanwhile, it is said that Vivek is planning his next film, again a political expose, with Kangana Ranaut.

Vivek has now been given a pan-India Grade-Y Security cover by the government in view of the perceived threat to his life after the film’s release. Eight officers — two commandos and the rest police personnel—will be monitoring his safety. An industry that protests on the flimsiest grounds when a scene or film is censored about “freedom of expression” is now silent about this democratic right of the filmmaker!

More glories

Vijayapura BJP MLA, Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, has announced that he will fund one show per day of the movie for a week, so that people can watch it free of cost. The makers of the Gujarati film Prem Prakaran have even stopped their shows in Gujarat, where it was doing well, to make way for The Kashmir Files, with filmmaker Chandresh Bhatt stating, “Nation is first, we will wait.” They will re-release the film later.

And today, it has been announced that The Kashmir Files will now be dubbed in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

International business

The film has successfully set up its shining footprints in the international markets too. It  has grossed USD 1.5 million (INR 11.4 crore) in selected countries in Week 1, excluding major territories like the Middle-East, Singapore and New Zealand. Initially, it opened in only 9 countries across 100 screens, but it then saw saw an exuberant increase to 25 countries across 350 screens. In North America, the film has grossed USD 1 million, in UK it has grossed USD 160,000 and in Australia it has grossed USD 262,000. The film has also been trending in Top 10 at the North America and Australia box-office in its first week. In Australia, there is a great demand from smaller towns like Geraldton,
Bunbury, Port Hedland where no Indian film has been showcased before, reports co-producers Zee Studios.

Apart from week 1, the second Friday has shown a 500 percent increase from the first day, which is never been seen before in Indian Cinema. The second Friday collections stands at over USD 500,000 (INR 4 crore).

Communities across the globe are also lending their support to promote the film, from branding at The Times Square in New York during its US Tour to the branding at one of the oldest underground stations in the world, in Baker Street, London. The film has become a movement in all quarters of the world and is also aiming to release in a few European and APAC territories in the coming days.

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