The Kashmir Files Review: Anupam Kher & Co expose the wounds of Kashmiri Pandits in a tedious, documentary-style Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri film

Film: The Kashmir Files


Cast: Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Darshan Kumaar, Bhasha Sumbli, Pallavi Joshi, Puneet Issar, Chinmay Mandlekar, Prakash Belawadi, Atul Srivastava, Mrinal Kulkarni


Director: Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri


Release Date: March 11


Duration: 170 minutes 


Rating: 2.5 Moons



Kashmiri Pandits faced life’s cruel turn in 1990 when Islamic militants compelled them to Ralive-Tsalive-ya Galive (Convert to Islam, leave Kashmir or perish). The black day forced many to migrate from the Valley. Many films have spoken about the social and political issues prevalent in Kashmir, Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri in The Kashmir Files rips off the Band-Aid, exposing the minority community’s wounds that run deep. 

“Spread my ashes in my lost home in Kashmir,” says Pushkernath Pandit (Anupam Kher), a displaced Kashmiri Pandit, to his grandson Krishna Pandit (Darshan Kumaar) on his deathbed. The Kashmir Files is Krishna’s return to the valley and the unfolding of events unknown to him. The story of the elderly Pushkernath and his family is shown in flashbacks which form a most heartbreaking segment. 


Pushkernath, a teacher, lives in Kashmir with his son, daughter-in-law Sharda, elder grandson Shiva and newborn Krishna. Terror comes home when his son is shot dead by an Islamic militant named Farooq Malik Bitta (Chinmay Mandlekar). The Pandits are forced to leave their home with countless others. Krishna, unaware of the truth, stands up for ‘Azadi’ and Kashmiri separatists under the influence of his Professor Radhika Menon (Pallavi Joshi) at a Delhi college (read JNU). She encourages him to contest the college’s Presidential elections but for her own cause.    

A 'brainwashed' Krishna is shown the mirror by Brahma Dutt (Mithun Chakraborty), Laxmi Dutt (Mrinal Kulkarni) and his friends who shared a close and personal relationship with Pushkernath. They take him through the horrific incidents that were forced upon Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s. 


Vivek, through The Kashmir Files, refuses to dodge the bullet and presents factual events without watering them down. Be it Bitta forcing Sharda to eat a handful of rice soaked in her dead husband’s blood to save the rest of her family, dead men hanging from trees on a frozen January day to the Nadimarg massacre in which 24 Kashmiri Pandits were brutally shot dead by armed militants dressed in military uniforms, the director chose to tell the story with enough shock value rather than choosing subtlety. Handling the subject sensitively, he depicts the brutal incidents without any whitewashing.

While the intention of The Kashmir Files is to bring justice to Kashmiri Pandits and highlight their struggle and suffering, the long duration and back-and-forth dialogues dilute the impact. The overall storytelling format doesn’t allow you to resonate with the characters, feel the tension, struggle, and their mentality. Rightly so, there are two sides to a story and The Kashmir Files does present it. But it appears to be more like a formality. Darshan’s monologue at the end is way too dragged. 


The Kashmir Files brings out the best in all the actors. Anupam Kher, a Kashmiri Pandit himself, channels the inner pain, suffering and injustice that the community had to go through. Making his character Pushkernath a medium to tell the story of the community in a never-seen-before way, the veteran actor delivers an unmatched performance. Bhasha as Sharda never makes you feel that it is her first film. Getting into the skin of her character, she gives a performance that will haunt your thoughts forever. Paying a tribute to the courage, strength, grace and beauty of Kashmiri Pandit women, Bhasha is a natural performer. Her screams will echo in our ears always. 

Mithun Chakraborty, who plays Brahma Dutt, gives a memorable and impactful performance. Darshan as Krishna carries the film on his shoulders effortlessly. Pallavi Joshi is the perfect choice for Radhika Menon. She adds her own charm and flavour to an important character. Chinmay Mandlekar is menacing and wonderful as Farooq Malik Bitta. He will make you hate him. Mrinal Kulkarni, Puneet Issar, Prakash Belawadi and Atul Srivastava have brief roles but they do shine in their respective roles.



The Kashmir Files stays true to what it promised – the story of genocide straight from the land of Kashmiri Pandits. The prominence of Kashmiri dialogues and poems describing the land is a great and impactful move and it just adds to the authenticity, making it more like a documentary, not a cinematic experience.

The film is a brave, unfiltered and bold attempt to highlight the story of Kashmiri Pandits but in the whole process, they fail to answer relevant questions. The narrative loses its sheen and sharpness with flashbacks. The suspense around Sharda’s and Shiva’s deaths ends with a stark and haunting conclusion; this scene makes it worth sailing through a long 3 hours film. Watch it only if you are passionate about the history of India, especially Kashmir.

PeepingMoon gives The Kashmir Files 2.5 Moons