A verbal duel erupted between Shashi Tharoor and ‘The Kashmir Files’ duo of Vivek Agnihotri-Anupam Kher on Tuesday after the Congress leader tweeted about the movie being banned in Singapore, drawing sharp remarks from the director and the actor who also invoked Tharoor’s late wife Sunanda Pushkar’s Kashmiri origins to attack him.
Tharoor said “dragging” his late wife Sunanda into the matter was “unwarranted and contemptible”.
The whole controversy started when the MP from Thiruvananthapuram shared a news report on Twitter about the ban on the film in Singapore.
“Film promoted by India’s ruling party, #KashmirFiles, banned in Singapore,” the Congress leader tweeted.
In his reply to Tharoor, Agnihotri called Singapore the “most regressive censor in the world”.
“Dear @ShashiTharoor, FYI, Singapore is most regressive censor in the world. It even banned The Last Temptations of Jesus Christ (ask your madam).”
“Even a romantic film called #TheLeelaHotelFiles will be banned. Please stop making fun of Kashmiri Hindu Genocide,” Agnihotri tweeted, apparently referring to the incident where Pushkar was found dead at a Delhi five star hotel in 2014.
After a netizen informed him that Pushkar was also a Kashmiri Hindu, the director asked Tharoor to delete his earlier post and “apologise to her soul”.
“Hey @ShashiTharoor, Is this true that Late Sunanda Pushkar was a Kashmiri Hindu? Is the enclosed SS true? If yes, then in Hindu tradition, to respect the dead, you must delete your tweet and apologise to her soul,” he wrote.
Actor Kher also joined the debate and slammed Tharoor for his tweet.
“Dear @ShashiTharoor! Your callousness towards #KashmiriHindus genocide is tragic. If nothing else at least for #Sunanda’s sake who was a Kashmiri herself, you should show some sensitivity towards #KashmiriPandits & not feel victorious about a country banning #TheKashmirFiles!” he tweeted.
In a cutting retort, Tharoor posted a statement on Twitter and, without naming Agnihotri and Kher, said he tweeted a “factual news item” this morning, with no comment on its contents or the film.
He also said that he has not seen the film.
“At no point did I mock or disparage the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits, of whose plight I am intimately aware, and to which I have repeatedly drawn attention over the years,” Tharoor said.
“Dragging my late wife Sunanda into this matter was unwarranted and contemptible. No one is more aware of her views than I am. I have accompanied her to the destroyed ruins of her ancestral home in Bomai, near Sopore, and joined her in conversations with her Kashmiri neighbours and friends, both Muslim and Hindu.”
“One thing I know, unlike those attempting to exploit her when she is not around to speak for herself: She believed in reconciliation, not hate,” the Congress leader said.
“The Kashmir Files” has so far collected over Rs 350 crores at the box office, even though its critics called out the film for its problematic politics and exploitation of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the 90s from the Valley.
The movie also sparked a debate among political parties after several BJP-ruled states, including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat exempted it from the entertainment tax.