Kashmir Files screenwriter Saurabh M Pandey says ‘it takes a lot of courage to explore such a subject’

Saurabh M Pandey is the research director of Vivek Agnihotri’s cinematic marvel, The Kashmir Files. Previously, the screenwriter collaborated with the filmmaker for The Tashkent Files. Saurabh also worked as the lead screenwriter for Sharman Joshi, Raju Kher and Asrani’s starring 2021 film Babloo Baher. He is currently awaiting the release of his film ‘Vani’ as the director of the project. In a chat with News18.com, the screenwriter revealed that the film crew did more than 3 years of research in India and abroad to prepare the script for the film.

Sharing how he didn’t think the film would become such a blockbuster, Saurabh said, “The kind of film The Kashmir Files is nobody could have imagined. The film is a blockbuster and Vivek Agnihotri had a brilliant idea. When the movie was done, we knew we had found a good project, but little did we know that the movie would be a blockbuster and people would like it. And the film will reach a level where it will become cult. No one could have imagined this. It takes a lot of courage to make a film on such a crucial subject.

Saurabh worked as a screenwriter and additional dialogue writer with Vivek Agnihotri on The Kashmir Files. Speaking about his experience working with the filmmaker, he called it “brilliant” and revealed the two things about Vivek he loved the most.

The screenwriter said, “There are two things about him that are brilliant. Every time you encounter him, his energy level is way too high. He’s so passionate about things that sometimes I feel an inferiority complex because I’m way too young than him, how does he have so much energy. And the second thing is that he’s very fearless about things. For example, if he wants to highlight a scene in a particular way, he will do it the same way, no doubt. He is not scared. So if you want to do stuff like that, you should have both characters like him. I also worked with him before, but this kind of research-oriented work I had only started doing with him. I had also assisted him in his film Junooniyat from which I started my career. After that, I did a few more projects and then collaborated with Vivek Sir.

When asked who he envisioned as the lead actor for the film, as he worked on the script, Saurabh said, “When the script for the film came, we didn’t think of the actor who would be. chosen for the film. After the script arrived, the casting director along with Pallavi Joshi and Vivek Agnihotri took acting tests, there were screen tests, and then they chose the stars. Even the technicians were also chosen following the same process.

Saurabh shared that the film was made after three years of research. “In the beginning, we did basic research from books and internet, after which we conducted thousands of interviews in India and abroad. We had 2 teams and I was part of one We went to Jammu, Kashmir, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai for the interviews.There was another team that did overseas interviews in countries like the UK, the United States, Australia and Germany. So we went to all of these places and talked with the victims, listened to their stories, met with experts to check things out. The whole process took about 2, 5 years It took so long because it’s such a topic, and there were so many atrocities on people that if you listen to all these things one after the other, your brain goes numb So we needed a break of 7-10 days There was a year of interviews, then there was a lot of research, there was so it took about 3 years for the story to go from research to script,” the screenwriter said.

He said it was extremely essential to do thorough research before writing the script for the film because there is a lot about Kashmir that has not yet been shown in films made on the subject. He shared, “The things that weren’t shown were the pain of the genocide. When you don’t feel safe inside your own home, how does this pain and suffering… must this be felt by people, only then such genocide will not happen again.

As the film’s crew did extensive research before it was made, we asked Saurabh about memories that will always stay with him during the research for the film. He recalls: “When I was in Jammu, I met a 30-year-old victim of the Nadirmag massacre. When I spoke to this person, I had the impression that he was reliving this incident. There were 5 families who were killed. The whole family, from the children to the older ones, was beaten. He was saved because he went to Jammu. When he told the whole incident, I felt disgusted and it took me at least 10-15 days to get over it. They killed children from two to five years old, they massacred Kashmiri women with an ax and it was all captured in footage, and to see that was extremely disturbing.

The Kashmir Files was released on March 11 this year. The film broke box office records by becoming the first post-pandemic Hindi film to cross the 300 crore mark. It featured Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi and Darshan Kumaar in key roles.

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