The Kashmir Files’ Screenplay Writer Saurabh M Pandey Says ‘It Takes Lot Of Courage to Explore Such a Subject’

Saurabh M Pandey is the research head for Vivek Agnihotri’s cinematic marvel The Kashmir Files. Prior to this, the screenplay writer had collaborated with the filmmaker for The Tashkent Files. Saurabh has also worked as the lead writer of 2021 released Sharman Joshi, Raju Kher and Asrani starrer film Babloo Baher. He is currently awaiting the release of his Film ‘Vani’ as a director of the project. In a conversation with News18.com, the screenplay writer revealed that the film’s team did more than 3 years of research in India and abroad to get the film’s script ready.

Sharing how he didn’t feel that the movie will turn out to be such a blockbuster, Saurabh said, “The kind of film The Kashmir Files is nobody could have imagined that ever. The film is a blockbuster and Vivek Agnihotri had a brilliant idea. After the film’s completion, we knew that we have come up with a good project, but we weren’t aware that the film will be a blockbuster and people will appreciate it. And the film will reach a level where it will become a cult. Nobody could have imagined this. It takes a lot of courage to make a film on such a crucial topic.”

Saurabh worked as an additional screenplay and dialogue writer with Vivek Agnihotri on The Kashmir Files. Talking about his experience of working with the filmmaker, he described it as ‘brilliant’ and revealed the two things about Vivek that he liked the most.

The screenplay writer said, “There are two things about him that are brilliant. Whenever you meet him, his energy level is way too high. He is so passionate about things that sometimes in I feel inferiority complex that I’m way too younger than him, how does he have so much energy. And the second thing is, that he is very fearless about things. For example, if he wants to showcase a scene in a particular way he will do it in the same way, without any doubt. I’m not scared. So, if you want to do things like that then you should have the two characters like him. I have worked with him earlier too, but this kind of research-oriented work I had started doing with him only. I’d also assisted him in his film Junooniyat from which I started my career. After that, I did a couple of other projects and then I collaborated with Vivek Sir.”

On being asked who did he imagine as the lead actor for the movie, when he was working on the screenplay, Saurabh said, “When the film’s script came, we didn’t think about the actor to be cast in the film. After the script came, the casting director along with Pallavi Joshi and Vivek Agnihotri took screen tests of actors, there were screen tests and then they decided on the stars. Even the technicians were also decided by following the same process.”

Saurabh shared that the film was made after three years of research. “At first, we did basic research from the books and the internet after which we did 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 interviews abroad in countries like the UK, US, Australia, and Germany. So, we went to all these places and spoke with the victims, listened to their stories, met with experts to verify things. The whole process took about 2.5 years. It took such a long time because this is such a topic, and there were so many atrocities on people that if one will listen to all these things one after the other, one’s brain will go numb. So, we needed a 7 to 10 day break. There was one year of interviews and then there was a lot of research, so it took around 3 years for the story to come from research to script,” said the screenplay writer.

He stated that it was extremely essential for in-depth research before writing the film’s script because there are many things about Kashmir that haven’t been shown in the movies made on the topic yet. He shared, “The things that were not shown were the pain of the genocide. When you don’t feel safe inside your own home, how is that pain and suffering… this needs to be felt by people, only then such a genocide won’t occur again.”

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

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

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