August 27, 2020 11:04 pm

Review: ‘Kashmiriyat’ | ‘A Brutal Exploitation of Artistic License’

‘This short film is driven by a dictator mentality and rides on jingoism. There is hardly any scope for an alternate narrative which could have added to the beauty of this film.’

By Asif Khan, Arbeena Shah

KASHMIR is all heart whenever Bollywood has approached and tried to prey upon the picturesque valley. It persecutes the inhabitants and distorts the vox populi of the region. There’re a plethora of kindred Hindi movies obsessed with inflicting pain and suffering on Kashmiris. And the torment has continued ever since the dawn of Bollywood.

Hindi film industry sees Kashmiris as a flock of sheep and takes them wherever they want. They hardly give Kashmiris a space in their films and represent them as robots controlled by the other side, without having a voice of their own.

The filmmakers hardly think of repercussions their ruthless portrayal can have.

Lately, senior Bollywood actress Sony Razdan, who earlier acted in a movie Raazi (2018), which was again grossly engaged in distorting the image of Kashmir, said in one of her interviews with Kashmir Observer that, ‘‘Kashmir has been grossly underrepresented or misrepresented a lot of the times in bollywood.” But who knows that Bollywood may soon open its eye towards Kashmir and incorporate their narrative as well.

But that day seems quite far as of now, as digital theatres witness back to back explosive patriotic releases misrepresenting Kashmir.

Though all such movies may well be driven by the same source of inspiration of reinforcing the existing stereotypes and stigmas attached to Kashmiris, audiences turned cheerleaders seem to be rejuvenating them.

It may be because of the frenzy spell of hyper-nationalism that such stuff is being blindly liked and shared.

The case with the latest short film ‘Kashmiriyat,’ revolving around Kashmir which is written and directed by young Divyansh Pandit is no different.

He is also the founder of the Wild Buffaloes Entertainment production under whose banner this 26 minute and 14 seconds short movie got released on August 12, 2020.

Pandit has also assisted with the award winning director Raj Kumar Santoshi in the film Phata Poster Nikla Hero besides directing two travel shows and more than 20 short films.

The story of the short film records a young boy Liyakat played by Naveen Pandita led astray by the country across the border via its present element in Kashmir in face of Altaf (Anshul Trivedi) playing a Pakistani army officer.

Liyakat is shown preparing a bomb to target the army personnel in order to avenge the killings of Kashmiri Muslims. But his mother, Muneera Anwar, played by Zarina Wahab, comes into scene and ruins his entire plan once she discovers his intentions. In this chaos Liyakat’s mother is shot.

The film begins with a flash forward showing Indian army cordoning a house to get into it. Then we are taken to a road side where a kid dressed in a stereotypical Kurta pajama and a white skullcap is busy playing with a catapult while Altaf, potrayed as the Pakistani element, hands him some toffees.

We come to know about the address of the place at which it is shot from the telephonic response of the police when Liyaqat yells at his mother, Muneera Anwar, not to call the police while pointing a gun at her. But she does.

Short Film director Divyansh Pandit with actor Zarina Wahab

Kashmiriyat is a sort of short film which has painted everything in black and white. The film claims that there is no real dissent in Kashmir and blames Pakistan for all the anarchy present in the valley. The film is an extreme artistic piece and brutal exploitation of artistic license.

This short film is driven by a dictator mentality and rides on jingoism. There is hardly any scope for an alternate narrative which could have added to the beauty of this film.

The director instead of keeping a single dish on the plate could have accommodated some more for sure as Kashmiris do in Wazwaan. But he has chosen to go with the current wave. The director is still young and will definitely learn with time to accept the beauty of plurality.

The dialogues of the Pakistani army officer, played by Rohit Sagar, when he briefs a journalist that, “We don’t want war but if India wants war we have only one thing to say, if two nuclear armed countries come face to face in a war it will be disastrous,” resemble to what the current Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been reiterating since 2019 Pulwama suicide bombing in which 40 CRPF men were killed.

While Muneera breathes her last she narrates her story of conversion from a Hindu Pandit named Pallavi Raj to Muneera Anwar. She narrates that many Pandit women were taken hostage and forcibly converted to Islam in Kashmir.

While handling such politically-sensitive subjects, the filmmaker should have done proper research and presented the actual number of Pandit women “converted”, rather than playing with the sweeping numbers.

People should’ve known the exact number of Pandit killings because the story which Muneera narrates seems to be more of Gujarat carnage.

The representation of Kashmiris through an innocent kid named Jahaan is again misleading as it goes onto show that Kashmiris are unaware of the truth.

Here, again the bias in writing is exposed as the writer enforces that his version of the story is only truthful. How can a person who is not even well-versed with the politics of the region comments so vehemently of a complicated issue like Kashmir.

It places strong queries and questions against the writer and his works.

Kashmiris have a sound knowledge not only of the politics of their homeland but also geopolitics surrounding the globe. Our writers/journalists have been internationally and nationally acclaimed. They surely won’t accept this distorted and intolerant work. And their national and global audience would also renounce the film.

The clips in the lone song of the film, ‘Ye Jo Jahaan Hain’ sung by Shruthi Pathak and Raj Pandit narrating the story of Kashmiri Pandits backed by emotional lyrics and photos of the dead bodies, will instantly fill one with intense rage and animosity against Kashmiri Muslims.

Again, the makers are caught guilty of biased and poor research on the subject as the role of the establishment is again brushed under the carpet.

We aren’t recommending this movie as there is much better stuff available on the internet.

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