By Durga Chakravarty
New Delhi: Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, whose upcoming movie “Tashkent Files” is set to release during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, says only an “idiot or a guilty person” can call the movie a propaganda and that it is about a “citizen’s right to truth”.
The film, which raises questions about former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s mysterious death, is scheduled to hit the screens on April 12, a day after the seven-phased general elections commence.
Why was such a time chosen to release this film?
“Do you question when films are released on Eid day or Republic Day or Diwali day? We are a small film and this is the best window we are getting when there is no other film. Because after this, there are huge films like ‘Kalank’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’ which won’t give us screens,” Agnihotri told IANS over text messages.
The director added that the film started rolling in 2017 after years of research.
“Shastri was the PM of India and one of the most respected leaders of India. He is definitely not contesting the elections in 2019. Why should anyone feel threatened?”
Political films like “Raajneeti”, “Thackeray” and “The Accidental Prime Minister” have been termed as “propaganda” films. Several social media users have said a lot of propaganda films are coming up.
“How can it be a propaganda film? Shastri was a Congress PM so, am I propagating Congress’s agenda? Are you telling me such great leaders are owned by political parties? He led us to victory in a war with Pakistan after humiliating defeat from China in 1962,” he said.
Agnihotri said for him, Shastri was “India’s first economic reformer and a military PM”.
“Only an idiot or a guilty person can call it propaganda. It’s a great service to the great leader whose mysterious death was never probed in the last 53 years. The film is about a citizen’s Right to Truth. Is that propaganda?” he asked.
What all aspects related to Shastri will be shown in the film?
“The film is strictly about the death of Shastri…,” he replied.
It stars Naseeruddin Shah, Mithun Chakraborty and Shweta Basu Prasad. Talking about the casting, Agnihotri said: “For such a sensitive subject I needed the best actors of our times. I am lucky that I could cast five National Award-winners plus six multiple award winners,” he said.
Agnihotri promises the film will “stand out for its stellar cast and their outstanding performances”.