Israeli Filmmaker’s Critique of Popular Bollywood Film Draws Fierce Backlash

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In India, the response to “The Kashmir Files,” which was released in March, has been deeply divided along political and sectarian lines. Its commercial success, though, is beyond dispute. Despite having no song-and-dance numbers — a staple feature of Bollywood movies — the film was an instant hit, grossing more than $43 million in worldwide sales. It cost about $2 million to make.

The festival featured more than 280 films from 80 countries. Anurag Thakur, India’s information and broadcasting minister, singled out the Netflix series “Fauda,” from Israel, for praise. The series is a hit in India, and its fourth season premiered at the festival.

Mr. Thakur also spoke, in Hebrew and English, of the two countries’ growing ties.

“We have conflict in the neighborhood,” he said. “At the same time, we have thousands of years of history.”

“India will be the content hub of the world in the near future,” Mr. Thakur added. “This is the right time to collaborate and reach out and make films around those stories which are not told to the world. India is the place and Israel is the right partner.”

Mr. Lapid’s comments also no doubt embarrassed the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which organized the festival, and has paid special heed to India’s increasingly close relationship with Israel. The government found itself in the awkward position Tuesday of trying to distance itself from a head juror whom its festival committee had selected and given a platform.

“His attempt to politicize the I.F.F.I. platform, which celebrates diversity in filmmaking by way of stories, narratives and interpretations by filmmakers, is unacceptable and condemnable,” Kanchan Gupta, a government spokesman, said of Mr. Lapid, and referring to the International Film Festival of India, the event’s official name.

“Mr. Lapid is welcome to his personal views but the I.F.F.I. platform is not meant for airing those views,” he added.


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