Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files has been banned in Singapore for its “one-sided portrayal of Muslims.” The decision was made by the country’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The IMDA’s statement said that authorities found the “film to have exceeded the Film Classification Guidelines for its provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. These representations have the potential to cause enmity between different communities and disrupt social cohesion and religious harmony in Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society.”
“Under the Film Classification Guidelines, any material that is denigrating to racial or religious communities in Singapore will be refused classification,” the statement further read. A film that is refused classification cannot be screened in the country, resulting in an effective ban.
The Kashmir Files is a Hindi drama film based on the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandit community from the Kashmir valley in the 1990s. The film features actors Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Darshan Kumaar, Pallavi Joshi, Prakash Belawadi, Puneet Issar, and Atul Srivastava, among others.
The Kashmir Files has been endorsed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many other senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Several BJP-ruled states had also exempted the movie from entertainment tax. However, opposition parties had raised concerns over the communal tones in the film and the Jammu & Kashmir Students Association called the reactions of the public during screenings of the film “disturbing.” The association also cautioned that it could lead to the targeting of students of a particular community, especially those from Jammu and Kashmir, studying in different parts of the country. There were also several instances of violence reported around India post the film’s release.
Following Singapore’s ban on The Kashmir Files, Shashi Tharoor, a member of Parliament from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, took a dig at the ruling party on Twitter and noted that the film promoted by the BJP was being banned elsewhere.
Filmmaker Agnihotri shot back calling Singapore the “most regressive censor in the world.” He also attached a list of 48 popular films that have been banned in Singapore but hailed worldwide to drive home his point.
Earlier, films like Last Tango in Paris, Zoolander, and The Last Temptation of Christ have also been banned in Singapore.
According to a 2020 report by the Department of Statistics, 74.3% of the country’s resident population is ethnic Chinese, 13.5% ethnic Malay, 9.0% ethnic Indian, while 3.2% is comprised of others, including Eurasians. Nearly all ethnic Malays are Muslim. According to a 2016 national survey, among the ethnic Indians, 59.9% are Hindu, 21.3% Muslim, and 12.1% Christians.