Unrest in Kashmir has made headlines more often than not. There's more violence and more curfews that are disrupting life in the valley everyday. But Kashmir is so much more than in its unrest. It has a deep political, social and literary history which often gets sidelined. We either get to see a romanticisation of the Valley (mostly through films) or a blow by blow account of the painfully difficult lives of the people of Kashmir.
And so, if you want a breather from the unending politicisation and chaos of Kashmir, but still love the state in all its glory, here's a list of films to watch:
Valley of Saints (2015)
A young scientist from another country forms an unlikely bond with a working-class boatman in the war torn Kashmir. The violence in the city might not be the best start to their budding romance, so does this unlikely love story stand a chance?
This picturesque Sundance award-winning movie has got a thumbs-up from the likes of the legendary critic Roger Ebert. It is a must watch for two reasons: the unlikely love story between the privileged scientist and the working class boy makes the perfect comment on the politics of violence in Kashmir, and director Musa Syeed has captured the beauty of Kashmir beautifully.
Sikandar Raza (Parzan Dastur) is a 14-year-old schoolboy in the Kashmir valley. Ever since his parents were killed by militants he has lived with his aunt and uncle, in a small town in Kashmir valley. The teenage boy's universe revolves around his foster parents and football. Trouble ensues when Sikandar picks up a gun and almost gives into temptations of using it in the war torn world he lives in. The movie summarises how easy it is for a child to be lured into becoming a terrorist.
The movie is very loosely based on Stephen King's novel Apt Pupil(1982), which uses neo-nazism as a backdrop instead of Kashmiri unrest.
Minissha Lamba plays a Kashmiri woman torn between her army officer lover Aman (Jimmy Shergill) and her brother Shakeel, who is a suspected terrorist. Trouble ensues when Aman's superiors come to know of his involvement with the sister of a terrorist and implicate him as an accomplice. Based on a true story, this low-key movie is a very heart rending story about love winning against all odds. Debutant director Shoojit Sircar went on to make more brilliant movies like Vicky Donor and Piku, after Yahaan.
Pather Chujaeri/ The Play is On (2001)
The documentary takes a look at 'Pather'; a satiric, non- sectarian folk theatre form, which is exclusive to Kashmir. This under-an-hour documentary is an interesting watch because of the way it explores the subversive message of the artists behind the Pather, and how their saith in Sufism bands them together as a collective voice for peace amidst the chaos of Kashmir. Director Pankaj Rishi Kumar also pays tribute to the artists who are dedicated to keeping alive the art of 'Pather' amidst the violence of Kashmir.
This Mani Ratnam film is one of the most brilliantly made movies, right from A.R.Rahman's soundtrack to it's cinematography, on Kashmir. The film, though a love story, opens a dialogue about Kashmir and terrorism without trying to pass judgement about the issue, or being overtly critical about terrorism or the government.
The argument between Liaqat, the terrorist (played by Pankaj Kapoor) and Rishikumar(played by Arvind Swammy) about why Liaqat wants a free Kashmir and how Rishikumar, a scientist who works for the army, refutes it, makes an interesting watch.