“Inviting all democratic and free speech, pro-TRUTH believers, media people, correspondents, reporters media activists and those with empathy for Kashmir Genocide victims tomm at 3.30 PM at Le MERIDIEN, New Delhi.”
The Kashmir Files director Vivek Agnihotri was fuming on Twitter on Wednesday after he alleged that his free speech had been curbed by the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia and the Press Club of India.
An angry Agnihotri then said that all would be revealed on 5 May when he holds an “open house press conference” and answer the “toughest questions”.
Confused about what happened? Here’s what we know about the situation and why the filmmaker has been up in arms against the two clubs.
'Ban' on Agnihotri
On 3 May (Tuesday), the filmmaker, whose recent movie The Kashmir Files has grossed over Rs 300 crore worldwide and is among the most successful post-pandemic Hindi films, posted a video on Twitter, alleging that “the watchdogs of free speech and the messiah of free speech” had turned him away and announced that he would now hold this media interaction at the Press Club of India instead.
IMPORTANT: ALL MEDIA
1. Foreign Correspondents Club, New Delhi has cancelled my PC on 5th May in an undemocratic manner as part of a hate-campaign against #TheKashmirFiles.
2. I am holding an open-house PC at the Press Club of India on the 5th at 4 PM.
All media are invited. pic.twitter.com/aDFbS9FteB
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) May 3, 2022
Explaining further, the director said that a few days before the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora had informed him that the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) was “very keen” to host him for a press conference on his latest movie, The Kashmir Files. The event was scheduled for 5 May at 7 pm.
In his video message, he added that all the arrangements had been made but then, “very powerful media” purportedly “took objection” to the press conference, and it was cancelled.
When FCC was asked to explain, FCC South Asia president Munish Gupta said to PTI, “The FCC South Asia decided to cancel a promotional event and has no further comment.”
Unable to stomach an attack on his free speech, Agnihotri then organised the event at the Press Club of India (PCI) “in the interest of India, democracy, free speech and truth”.
Now, here comes the kicker!
Shortly, after he posted about his press conference at PCI, the institution informed all that they were not “facilitating any event on 5 May by any individual or organisation”.
The Press Club of India is not facilitating any event on May 5 by any individual or organisation. The Club allows press conferences only with advanced booking. There is a due process, and bookings have to be done through a member of the Club.
— Press Club of India (@PCITweets) May 3, 2022
PCI’s Chander Shekhar Luthra, the joint secretary of the club, told Newslaundy, “Merely just by tweeting, you cannot book any space...You can’t just say, ‘I’ll do an open house in the Press Club of India.” That will amount to trespassing...Our stand is very clear – there is no booking as such from anyone in the name of Mr Agnihotri for his cause.”
The filmmaker then called out the Press Club for lying, saying “the watchdogs of democracy and messiah of free speech not only banned me undemocratically but are also lying through their teeth”.
Wow! @PCITweets also cancelled me. The watchdogs of democracy and messiah of free speech not only banned me undemocratically but are also lying through their teeth.
1. Encl are the facts.
2. They have booked earlier through our agency without any member’s recco. Receipt encl. https://t.co/APRzRlYR18 pic.twitter.com/BQTcY1SXUs
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) May 4, 2022
Refused by both places, Agnihotri said he will have an “open house press conference” and will answer the “toughest questions” on 5 May (today).
‘The Kashmir Files’
Vivek’s latest offering of The Kashmir Files, about the Kashmiri Pandit exodus during the 1990s, has been a box office hit, amassing Rs 300 crore.
However, the movie is not without criticism. While some state that the movie was factually incorrect, others were of the opinion that it was misleading viewers and fuelling hate against a minority community.
The criticism, notwithstanding, the movie received backing from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciating the team for making the film.
It was a pleasure to meet our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi Ji.
What makes it more special is his appreciation and noble words about #TheKashmirFiles.
We've never been prouder to produce a film.
Thank you Modi Ji @narendramodi @vivekagnihotri #ModiBlessedTKF pic.twitter.com/H91njQM479
— Abhishek Agarwal (@AbhishekOfficl) March 12, 2022
Following this, several states with BJP-led governments made the film tax-free.
With inputs from agencies