Misleading: Vivek Agnihotri's film 'The Kashmir Files' has won the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2023.

By: Rahul Adhikari
February 24 2023

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Misleading: Vivek Agnihotri's film 'The Kashmir Files' has won the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2023.


The Verdict Misleading

The Kashmir Files has won the 'Best Film' award at a festival named after Dadasaheb Phalke, not the coveted award presented by the Indian government.

Claim ID eb63c9fc


Indian director Vivek Agnihotri's cinematic venture, The Kashmir Files, focusing on the killings of Kashmir Pandits in India and the events leading up to their exodus from the Kashmir Valley in the 1990s, has found itself amid many controversies since its release in 2022. The film was heavily promoted and praised by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including PM Narendra Modi. While a commercial success, it was accused of inflaming communal hatred and being propagandist. Earlier in January, Agnihotri was fact-checked by several outlets and figures on social media for incorrectly claiming that the film had been shortlisted for the 2023 Academy Awards.

In February 2023, several social media users began claiming that the film had won India’s top cinema honor Dadasaheb Phalke Award and praised Agnihotri for winning the "coveted" award and for "achieving the unthinkable." Sushma Pandey, a journalist, wrote on Twitter, "This is really a big occasion for a film made on this lower scale and making it to the DadaSaheb Phalke Award 2023 .. this should be an eye opener for Bollywood... #TheKashmirFiles." Similarly, a Noida-based journalist Versha Singh claimed that Agnihotri had received "the prestigious DadaSaheb Phalke Award" for the film. Several other verified journalists made the same claim on Twitter. Some media houses, including The Times of India and its sister news channel Times Now , also reported that the film had won recognition at the Dadasaheb Phalke Awards 2023.

This came after Agnihotri shared a post on Twitter on February 21 and wrote, "ANNOUNCEMENT: #TheKashmirFiles wins the 'Best Film' award at #DadaSahebPhalkeAwards2023." He posted three photos, including one of the trophy and one video from the award ceremony. However, Agnihotri's tweet is misleading and lacks context, as are the other claims and reports floating around his film..

In Fact

On February 20, Agnihotri's film won the "Best Picture" award at the Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2023 in Mumbai. The film festival's Twitter account also shows that Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor won the Best Actress and Best Actor awards, while R Balki took home the Best Director award. All the tweets posted by the official account of the film festival were accompanied by the hashtags #dpiff, #dpiff2023, and #dpiffawards, not #DadaSahebPhalkeAwards2023, as used by Agnihotri and others on social media. On its website, the film festival states that it is an initiative started in 2016 by founder and managing director Anil Mishra to honor the legacy of Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, aka Dadasaheb Phalke - who is also known as the father of Indian cinema. The website states it is "India's only independent film festival" and has Phalke's grandson Chandrasekhar Pusalkar as the jury's president. Directors, actors, and artists are given awards in their respective categories at these awards, like any other film festival. According to the winner's list on its website, the first set of awards was given out in 2020.

On the other hand, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, presented by the Directorate of Film Festival (which comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting), has been handed out since 1969 to one cinema personality each year. Rather than films, a person from the field of cinema is eligible for this award, making it impossible for The Kashmir Files to have won. According to the Directorate of Film Festivals, this is the highest honor in the field of cinema presented for "outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema." This award, named after the pioneer Phalke, is presented at the National Film Awards yearly. The last recipient of this prestigious award was legendary actor Asha Parekh, who won the award in 2020 but received it in 2022 owing to a pandemic-induced delay. Actors Rajinikanth, Amitabh Bachchan, and lyricist and writer Gulzar are among the personalities who have received the award in previous years. 

While Agnihotri did share a photo of the trophy, which clearly states that the Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival presented the award, he omitted to provide a clear context in his tweet and used a misleading hashtag.

Despite similarities in their naming, Dadasaheb Phalke Award, presented by the I&B Ministry, and the Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Award are distinct. However, confusion has long ensued over this issue, and in 2018, Hindustan Times quoted Ashok Kumar Parmar, then Joint Secretary (F), saying: "What can the ministry do? And under what rule can we take action? You can't stop them since they're not exactly copying the name. They twist and use the name and organize a function. It's up to the invitees whether they want to attend such functions or not." The article further reported that other awards were also named after Dadasaheb Phalke, such as the Dadasaheb Phalke Excellence Awards and the Dadasaheb Phalke Film Foundation Awards.

The Verdict

Agnihotri's The Kashmir Files won the "Best Film" award at the Dadasaheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2023. This is not the same as the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, presented by the Indian government. Therefore, we mark this claim misleading.

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