Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri on Thursday said there was an international political campaign against him and his film "The Kashmir Files" by foreign media outlets which led to the Foreign Correspondents Club and the Press Club of India (PCI) cancelling his press conference.
Instead, the 48-year-old director held his press conference at a five-star hotel in the heart of the national capital, less than a kilometre away from the PCI.
The aim behind the press conference, according to Agnihotri, was to "debunk myths, accusations and impact of 'The Kashmir Files'". "It is really unfortunate that this anti-free speech, anti-truth activity took place in a government owned swanky bungalow or whatever that place is. This property is right in front of the Supreme Court, which is the highest temple of justice. My film was denied the press conference which was initiated by the Foreign Correspondents Club, and also it happened on the World Press Freedom Day," the filmmaker said.
"The same day they also published lots of reports on how India's Press Freedom Index is going down. And, it gives me reason to believe that this is a propaganda. In fact, the freedom of press is curbed by the international press, at least in my case," Agnihotri said.
"The Kashmir Files", which was released across the country on March 11, depicts the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley in the 1990s.
Though the film, starring Anupam Kher, Pallavi Joshi, Mithun Chakraborty and Darshan Kumar, was called out for its problematic politics by some critics and authors, it performed well at the box office by minting over Rs 350 crore.
Agnihotri said he has reasons to believe that "some agenda driven international media houses, who are actually political activists" are trying to interfere in India's politics and threatening its sovereignty.
The filmmaker said international media houses shunned the film initially but when it became a hit, they started approaching him to talk about it.
"The line of question was only Hindu-Muslim. Nobody, not even one bothered to ask me about all those victims. Not even one tried to ask me about the facts I've shown and whether they are right or wrong.
They had only two words -- Muslims and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi. And, which gives me reason to believe that they are agenda driven," he said.
Agnihotri, who has often compared his film with Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning film "Schindler's List", named the Hollywood filmmaker again.
The people who failed to report the "genocide of Kashmiri Hindus are upset with a film being made on the genocide", he said. "They don't have the guts to ask the same question to Mr Spielberg who made 'Schindler's List'. So, under this design, under this conspiracy, our press conference was cancelled," Agnihotri added.
The film's detractors often call it a "government-funded" movie, one that promotes Islamophobia, but nothing could be further from the truth, the director said. "The film became a historical success in the first four days. By Tuesday, it was indisputable that this film is going to create history. Until then not even one person said it's government supported. But when the prime minister spoke about it in a different context, suddenly it became government funded," he said.
The director said the past movies made on Kashmir like 'Fiza', 'Fanaa', 'Mission Kashmir', 'Dil Se' and 'Haider' were set in the 90s and tackled the issue of terrorism without mentioning the plight of Kashmiri Pandits.
"They were all made by big production houses with the biggest of the stars involved. Like, all those films were set in the 1990s. Not even one film mentioned anything about Kashmiri Hindus, forget genocide, as if Hindus never lived in that land," Agnihotri said. He said the final moments of "The Kashmir Files" are critical of the current government as well.
Agnihotri said the movie does not promote Islamophobhia in the country and rather talks against "terrorism". "There is an international political campaign against the film. They blame us for Islamophobia. I categorically put on record that Islamophobia is being used as a political weapon against my film under an international political conspiracy. The film is actually anti-terrorism. The film does not use even once the word 'Muslim'. The film does not use the word Pakistan or Pakistani. It's an anti terrorism film," he said.
Asked about his next film "The Delhi Files", which was announced a few weeks ago, he said the movie will tackle the events that have happened in the past and are still happening in the national capital.
When asked whether he has donated Rs 200 crores from the film's profit to PM Cares fund, the filmmaker retorted, "How can I donate Rs 200 crore? Which producer gets Rs 200 crore? It is not possible.