Vivek Agnihotri | Srivideo
Born Name: Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri
Born/Date of Birth: 21 December 1973
Place of Birth: Gwalior, India
Education: Harvard University, Indian Institute of Mass Communication
Occupation: Director, screenwriter, author
Spouse: Pallavi Joshi (m. 1997)
Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is an Indian film director, screenwriter, and author. As of 2019, he is member of the board of India's Central Board of Film Certification.
Agnihotri started his career with advertorial agencies and moved to producing and directing tele-serials; his work has been positively received. He debuted in Bollywood with the crime thriller Chocolate (2005) and went on to direct multiple films. With the exception of The Tashkent Files and Hate Story, his films have received mostly poor reviews from critics and have under-performed at box-office. In 2017, his first short film Mohammad and Urvashi won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for best actor.
Agnihotri has been frequently associated with the right wing (and Bharatiya Janata Party) by media and has been subject to controversies; he though rejects the tag and self-identifies as India-Wing.
Early life and education
Vivek Agnihotri was born in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to Prabhudayal Agnihotri and Ranjan Agnihotri.
He studied at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication before enrolling at Harvard Extension School for a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management.[a] In interviews with media, he has also mentioned Bhopal School of Social Sciences and Jawaharlal Nehru University among his almae matres.
Advertising and television serials
Agnihotri started his career with the advertising agencies Ogilvy and McCann, and served as creative director for campaigns of Gillette and Coca Cola. In 1994, he became involved with the directing and production of several television serials; his work was positively received.
Vivek debuted in Bollywood with Chocolate (2005), which is a remake of the 1995 Hollywood neo-noir crime thriller The Usual Suspects. Critical reception of the movie was negative, and the film fared poorly at box office. Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal is about an all-Asian football team in the United Kingdom that wins trophies while fighting on-field discrimination and the local municipality that wants to sell the team's ground. It received poor reception from critics and was a flop.
Hate Story received mixed critical reception and fared moderately at the box office. Buddha in a Traffic Jam featured his wife Pallavi and premiered at Mumbai International Film Festival in 2014; it was received unfavorably by critics and severely under-performed at the box office. Junooniyat was also subject to poor reviews and fared similarly.
Zid received very poor reviews and was a flop. However, Agnihotri has since claimed that credit for direction and screen-play was wrongly attributed to him, and that he was not involved with the film. The Tashkent Files received mostly unfavourable reviews from critics and was widely deemed to be politically motivated in light of the concurrent 2019 general elections but became a sleeper box-office hit.Agnihotri was honoured by the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association for the box-office success of the movie.
As of early 2020, Agnihotri is working on The Kashmir Files, a film chronicling the "unreported history of Kashmiri Hindus" which is scheduled to be released on 15 August 2020.
Agnihotri's short film Mohammad and Urvashi won a Dadasaheb Phalke Award for best actor in 2017. His film was released the following year and he said he received threats for using the name Mohammad.
In 2017, Agnihotri was selected as convenor by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in the preview committee of 48th International Film Festival of India. The same year, he was selected as member on board of India's Central Board of Film Certification.
Agnihotri has been frequently associated with the right wing and pro-BJP people by media but he rejects these descriptions and self-identifies as "India-Wing".
In 2018, Vivek wrote Urban Naxals: The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam, in which he described individuals in academia and media who were allegedly colluding with Naxalites in a bid to overthrow the Indian government and were thus "invisible enemies of India" as "Urban Naxals".
Critics said the term is "vague rhetoric" that is designed to discredit intellectuals who are critical of the establishment and political right and to stifle dissent. Reviews in the Organiser and The New Indian Express had praised the work. The Union Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani endorsed Vivek's views of Jadavpur University and Jawaharlal Nehru University being breeding grounds of "anti-national elements" for having refused to screen Buddha in a Traffic Jam.
Vivek is married to the Indian actor Pallavi Joshi and has two children.
Allegation of sexual harassment
Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta had accused Vivek of inappropriate behaviour during the filming of Chocolate. He allegedly asked her to strip and dance to give expression cues to her male co-star Irrfan Khan during a close-up shot and retreated only after Irrfan and Suniel Shetty rebuffed him. Vivek had refuted the allegations as "false and frivolous", and filed a defamation case against Dutta. Sattyajit Gazmer, the film's assistant director, has also refuted Tanushree's allegations.
Fact checkers have noted Agnihotri to have shared misleading content from his Twitter account. In September 2018, Twitter had locked his account until he agreed to delete a tweet abusing Swara Bhaskar. In response to Swara calling out politician P. C. George, who called an alleged rape victim a prostitute, Vivek tweeted "Where is the placard - '#MeTooProstituteNun'?". The tweet was interpreted as calling Swara a prostitute. Agnihotri defended his tweet and said he was making a point about the placarding by liberals at selective instances of alleged perpetrators belonging to the Hindu community. In January 2018, Agnihotri was accused of engaging in "casteist commentary" on Twitter after he said the flying of a Dalit leader's grandson in business class, when Agnihotri was flying in economy class despite being a Brahmin, was reverse discrimination.
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