Vivek Agnihotri

Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is an Indian film director, screenwriter, author and activist. As of 2019, he is a member of the board of India's Central Board of Film Certification. He is appointed as cultural representative of Indian Cinema at ICCR.

Vivek Agnihotri
Agnihotri signing his book
Agnihotri signing his book
Gwalior, India
EducationIndian Institute of Mass Communication
OccupationDirector, screenwriter, author
Spouse(s)Pallavi Joshi

Agnihotri started his career with advertorial agencies and moved to producing and directing tele-serials. He debuted in Bollywood with the crime thriller Chocolate (2005) and went on to direct multiple films.

Agnihotri has been frequently associated with the right wing by media. He has claimed of being a strong supporter[1] of Modi Government.[2] He has coined a term ‘Urban Naxal'[3] which is widely used to associate people[4] who are seen as opponents of the BJP government.

Early life and educationEdit

Agnihotri was born in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh to Sharda Agnihotri and Dr. Prabhu Dayal Agnihotri.[citation needed]

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.[5][6][a] In interviews with media, he has also mentioned Bhopal School of Social Sciences and Jawaharlal Nehru University among his almae matres.[8][9]


Advertising and television serialsEdit

Agnihotri started his career with the advertising agencies Ogilvy and McCann, and served as creative director for campaigns of Gillette and Coca Cola.[5][6] In 1994, he became involved with the directing and production of several television serials; his work was positively received.[5][6][10][11][12]


Agnihotri debuted in Bollywood with Chocolate (2005), a remake of the 1995 Hollywood neo-noir crime thriller The Usual Suspects. Critical reception of the movie was negative,[13][14] and the film fared poorly at box office.[15][16] 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.[17][18] It received poor reception from critics[19] and was a flop.[20][21][16]

Hate Story received mixed critical reception[22] and fared moderately at the box office.[23] Buddha in a Traffic Jam featured his wife Pallavi[24] and premiered at Mumbai International Film Festival in 2014;[25] it was received unfavorably by critics[26] and severely under-performed at the box office.[27][28] Junooniyat was also subject to poor reviews[29] and fared similarly.[30]

Agnihotri's 2014 erotic thriller Zid received poor reviews[31] but did average business at the box office.[32] However, Agnihotri has since claimed that credit for direction and screenplay was wrongly attributed to him, and that he was not involved with the film.[33] The Tashkent Files received mostly mixed reviews from critics but became a sleeper box-office hit.[34][35] Agnihotri was felicitated by the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association for the movie.[36]

In 2018, Agnihotri claimed that has received threats for using the name Mohammad in his short film Mohammad and Urvashi.[37][38]

As of early 2020, Agnihotri is working on The Kashmir Files, a film chronicling the "unreported exodus of Kashmiri Hindus".[39][40][41]

Filmography of Agnihotri
Film name Producer Director Screen writer Release
Chocolate  Y  Y 2005
Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal  Y 2007
Hate Story  Y 2012
Zid  Y  Y 2014
Buddha in a Traffic Jam  Y  Y  Y 2016
Junooniyat  Y  Y 2016
The Tashkent Files  Y  Y  Y 2019
The Kashmir Files  Y  Y  Y 2021

Film certificationEdit

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.[42] The same year, he was selected as member on board of India's Central Board of Film Certification.[43][44]


On 15 September 2020, Agnihotri was appointed as cultural representative at Indian Council for Cultural Relations.[45] He would represent Indian Cinema at ICCR.[46]

Political activismEdit

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".[47][48][49][50]

Urban NaxalsEdit

In 2018, Vivek wrote Urban Naxals: The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam,[51][52][53] 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".[54][55]

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.[56][57] Reviews in the Organiser and The New Indian Express had praised the work.[55] The Union Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani endorsed Agnihotri's views of Jadavpur University and Jawaharlal Nehru University for having refused to screen Buddha in a Traffic Jam.[58]

Personal lifeEdit

Agnihotri lives in Mumbai. He is married to Indian actor Pallavi Joshi and has two children.[54][6]


Allegation of sexual harassmentEdit

Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta accused Agnihotri 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. Agnihotri refuted the allegations as "false and frivolous", and filed a defamation case against Dutta.[59][60] Sattyajit Gazmer, the film's assistant director, has also refuted Tanushree's allegations.[61][62][63]


Fact checkers have noted Agnihotri to have shared misleading content from his Twitter account.[64][65] In September 2018, Twitter 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.[66]


  1. ^ CSS was started in 1980 as a certificate course for students with a bachelor's degree but no prior training in business or management.[7]:130 In 2007 it was converted into a full Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies (ALM) in management.[7]:200


  1. ^ "भाजपा का नहीं , बल्कि घोर मोदी समर्थक हूं: विवेक अग्निहोत्री" [I'm not a supporter of the BJP, but a strong Modi supporter: Vivek Agnihotri]. Dainik Jagran (in Hindi). Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  2. ^ Staff, J. K. R. (9 February 2019). "Pro-BJP filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri left embarrassed after his Twitter poll gives huge advantage to Rahul Gandhi over Narendra Modi". Janta Ka Reporter 2.0. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  3. ^ "'Urban Naxal' Is a Word Derived from Stupidity". The Quint. 29 August 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Who is an urban naxal, asks Romila Thapar". The Hindu. PTI. 30 September 2018. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  5. ^ a b c ""Terrorism interests and fascinates me":Vivek Agnihotri". Indian Television Dot Com. 2 January 2002. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d "About". Vivek Agnihotri. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  7. ^ a b Shinagel, Michael (2009). "The Gates Unbarred": A History of University Extension at Harvard, 1910-2009. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-03616-1.
  8. ^ Nationalist Ravi (16 June 2016). "Risk it with Ravijot - Talk 01, Vivek Agnihotri" – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Modi, Chintan Girish (8 April 2016). "The contrarian Kanhaiya Kumar". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  10. ^ "'How soon the viewer flows into the story determines my success' : Vivek Agnihotri". Indian Television Dot Com. 6 June 2001. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  11. ^ "The chocolate lawyer". The Hindu. 19 September 2005. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  12. ^ "One... gearing up to two!". The Hindu. 14 November 2005. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Jaspreet Pandohar review of Chocolate (Deep Dark Secrets) (2005)". BBC. 11 September 2005. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Shoplifted and shopworn". The Hindu. 23 September 2005. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Chocolate - Movie - Box Office India". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  16. ^ a b Dundoo, Sangeetha Devi (28 February 2011). "Business meets Bollywood". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  17. ^ Glynn, Stephen (3 May 2018). The British Football Film. Springer. p. 137. ISBN 9783319777276.
  18. ^ Krämer, Lucia (2 June 2016). Bollywood in Britain: Cinema, Brand, Discursive Complex. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. pp. 74–78. ISBN 9781501307584.
  19. ^ Reviews of Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal:
  20. ^ "Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal - Movie - Box Office India". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  21. ^ Business Today. 17. Living Media India Limited. 2008. p. 60.
  22. ^ Reviews of Hate Story:
  23. ^ "Hate Story - Movie - Box Office India". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  24. ^ "Jamming away". The Hindu. 7 April 2011. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  25. ^ Thakkar, Mehul S. (10 April 2016). "Barjatyas bails Vivek Agnihotri's 'Buddha' out of a 'Jam'". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  26. ^ Reviews of Buddha in a Traffic Jam:
  27. ^ "Arunoday Singh: I don't consider myself any less successful right now". Hindustan Times. 26 April 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Buddha In A Traffic Jam - Movie - Box Office India". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  29. ^ Reviews of Junooniyat:
  30. ^ "Junooniyat - Movie - Box Office India". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  31. ^ Reviews of Zid:
  32. ^ "Zid - Movie - Box Office India". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  33. ^ Sources which say he disassociated with film:
  34. ^ "Bhakt Vivek Agnihotri's stars". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  35. ^ Reviews of The Tashkent Files:
  36. ^ "Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri honoured by Indian Film & Television Directors' Association". Box Office India. 10 July 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  37. ^ IANS (14 April 2018). "Vivek Agnihotri's 'Mohammad and Urvashi' to release on April 24". Business Standard India. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  38. ^ "Vivek Agnihotri claims getting threats over 'Mohammad And Urvashi'". The Statesman. 20 April 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  39. ^ "Bollywood Turns To Plight Of Kashmiri Pandits, At Last". Outlook India. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  40. ^ "Vivek Agnihotri film The Kashmir Files to release in August 2020: Not an easy story to tell". India Today. Indo Asian News Service. 14 August 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  41. ^ "After 'The Tashkent Files', Vivek Agnihotri's next titled 'The Kashmir Files' starring Anupam Kher". Free Press Journal. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  42. ^ "Forty-Member Panel to Curate Films for IFFI With Agnihotri As Convenor". The Wire. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  43. ^ "Pahlaj Nihalani replaced by Prasoon Joshi: Vidya Balan, Vivek Agnihotri in CBFC Board; meet all new members". The Financial Express. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  44. ^ Scroll Staff. "Pahlaj Nihalani removed as chief of Central Board of Film Certification". Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  45. ^ "Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri gets appointed as new cultural representative at Indian Council for Cultural Relations". DNA India. 15 September 2020. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  46. ^ ANI. "Filmmaker Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri appointed as new cultural representative at ICCR". BW Businessworld. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  47. ^ Dundoo, Sangeetha Devi (18 April 2016). "Neither left, nor right". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  48. ^ "Releasing The Tashkent Files now due to public's current mood: Vivek Agnihotri". The Indian Express. 25 March 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  49. ^ Agnihotri, Vivek Ranjan (9 September 2017). "I have no wing. The only wing I know is 'India wing'. The day left-liberals start talking in favour of India & Indians, I'll support them". @vivekagnihotri. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  50. ^ Agrawal, Soniya (29 August 2018). "He's making a list of 'Urban Naxals', but who is Vivek Agnihotri?". ThePrint. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  51. ^ IANS (15 June 2018). "Not easy to attract eyeballs from government: Vivek Agnihotri". Business Standard India. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  52. ^ "Vivek Agnihotri's Urban Naxals: The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam | Going beyond the Maoist myth". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  53. ^ "Urban Naxals - The Making of Buddha In A Traffic Jam". Indic Today. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  54. ^ a b "He's making a list of 'Urban Naxals', but who is Vivek Agnihotri?". ThePrint. 29 August 2018. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  55. ^ a b "Book Review: The Untold Story of Communist Terrorism". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  56. ^ Coverage and commentary on the term in mainstream media:
  57. ^ Coverage and commentary on the term in scholarly sources:
  58. ^ Singh, Vivashwan (5 June 2015). "'Ghoul' and the Spectre of Totalitarianism". Economic and Political Weekly. 53 (42): 7–8.
  59. ^ Sources covering the episode:
  60. ^ Starkey, Jesse C.; Koerber, Amy; Sternadori, Miglena; Pitchford, Bethany (1 October 2019). "#MeToo Goes Global: Media Framing of Silence Breakers in Four National Settings". Journal of Communication Inquiry. 43 (4): 437–461. doi:10.1177/0196859919865254. ISSN 0196-8599.
  61. ^ "Assistant director turns down Tanushree Dutta's claims, gives detailed account of the incident on sets of Chocolate". Hindustan Times. 5 October 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  62. ^ Hungama, Bollywood (6 October 2018). "Tanushree Dutta controversy: Chocolate's associate director Ranjit Shah comes in support of Vivek Agnihotri, SLAMS the actress and calls her erratic : Bollywood News - Bollywood Hungama". Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  63. ^ "Not strip, but take off bathrobe worn above costume: 'Chocolate' Associate Director Sattyajit Gazmer on Tanushree Dutta's allegations". Free Press Journal. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  64. ^ Sources which say Agnihotri shared misleading content
  65. ^ Chowdhury, Archis (10 January 2020). "Vivek Agnihotri Posts A Doctored Image Of Anti-CAA Protester". Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  66. ^ Sources covering the episode:

External linksEdit