The Indian hit film ‘The Kashmir Files’ has been banned in Singapore by the country’s InfoComm Media Development Authority, on the grounds that it could disturb religious harmony.
Backed by ZEE5 and directed by Vivek Agnihotri (“The Tashkent Files”), the Hindi-language film revolves around a university student who learns about the religiously charged political turmoil that led to the death of his parents in Kashmir in the 1990s.
The IMDA said that it had consulted with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and the Ministry of Home Affairs, and that they together 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 on-going 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 film, made on a budget of $2 million, was released in cinemas in India and many international territories in mid-March and has grossed some $43 million to date. It forms part of a large film release slate being detailed Monday by ZEE5, the multi-lingual streaming arm of Indian broadcast group Zee.
“The Kashmir Files” was briefly banned in the United Arab Emirates. But the UAE authorities reversed their ban at the end of March and the film was released without cuts from April 7, 2022. New Zealand had to raise the film’s rating from R16 to R18 after concerns were raised by the Muslim community.
Socially conservative, Singapore censors films and TV shows due to depictions of drug use, possession and trafficking. The country does not recognize same-sex relationships and considers same-sex sexual activity to be illegal. It also clamps down on activity which could upset religious harmony.
With such a broad array of red lines, Singapore is the country which most censors streaming service Netflix. In 2020, Netflix said that it had taken down just nine pieces of content worldwide in its (then) 23-year history. Five of the nine were at the request of the Singapore authorities.