Tuesday, December 23, 2008

THE ‘K’ FACTOR - Irrationality of rational realist films..

Films From Kashmir,
Films For Kashmiris,
Without Kashmiri Pandits!

In the world of documentaries, every artist has the freedom to choose and deliver at his own will. All the more better if supported by the government and masses. As every filmmaker tricks the audience into believing his theme as abject truth, the masses too tend to drown themselves into it.

This weekend proved to be a crammed package of films on J&K. As one channel flashed a documentary based on a famous poem, the other channel followed with a special report on the children of conflict. Like always this viewer remained glued hoping against hope to catch a minority face…but I am glad my hopes were not raised. The first film reiterated their ‘freedom struggle’ as ‘satyagraha’; the other believed that the children of the valley are the worst victims.

Once more we had to watch the pain of the majority (Muslim) community, their kith and kin and their troubles caused at the hands of the ruthless Indian government. Once again the filmmakers decided to ignore that ‘there once lived a minority that now has the whole galaxy as their home except their own valley’. It is always troublesome to watch young lives suffer, their faces becoming a paradox to peace. But to believe that the conflict war zone weighed heavy only on population presently in the valley, one is mistaken.

As I saw snowy white faces of little kids in Kashmir, as cameras zoomed on the cherry red glow on these cheeks; I suddenly saw myself in Jammu. The same white cheeks of some Kashmiris have turned coal black; the only margin remained the ‘athoor’ dangling from female ears. When I heard a completely tanned teacher recite a Sanskrit prayer at the overcrowded Purkhoo camp and saw him scold some students in Kashmiri, the irony of calling them Kashmiris struck like a sword.

The above statement is anything but racist. The tanned skin mirrored years of hopelessness and eternal toil seep out with sweat on their faces. There was no red glow I could zoom into. I saw frustration and frustration little more. The news channel cut into a break which brought me back to my room and I lay frozen with the remote, knowing not what to do. At times I wonder if Hindus of Kashmir really exaggerate their pain or is it because we form the majority of this nation that we fail to make good news stories as victims.

Some refer to the Jammu refugee camps as a political gimmick, but it is the cowardice of educated filmmakers that they use their prerogative to ignore us. Ajay Raina, Ashok Pandit and Rajesh Jhala are some who dared to shed light on the issue. But then looking at the statistics, for one documentary on the Hindu minority there are ten for the majority. A film on the desecration of temples is termed communal while stories on Ayodhya/AFSPA are screened worldwide. Surprisingly the filmmakers and reporters who glorify the terrorists as ‘saviours of Kashmiris’ saw the same Kashmiris boycott separatists to vote for a record 65% in the recently held elections.


There is no doubt that films cannot transform the world, they do not possess that much power. However, as a filmmaker one still tries to use this freedom of expression to put forth the hidden truth. Every draconian law and every suppressed community has a filmmaker to boast of… except for the Hindus in forced exile. Some day in near future we too shall have a document of minority in the valley that the world can peak through- a document that delves deep into broken temples, broken families, broken hearts… above all a broken state.

Finally to conclude with how ignored we remain here’s the following truth- When Pakistan sponsored terrorism hit the valley, Kashmiri Pandits screamed their hearts out. When their homes burnt to ashes in front of their wet eyes, they stood up in protest. The Indian government was asked to take stringent steps. No one heard Kashmiri Pandits back then… No one heard them now as Mumbai burnt.

And yet we all know the truth. Don’t we?

(The author Pooja Shali is a Mass Communication masters student at New Delhi's A.J.K. MCRC. She can be reached at poojashali@gmail.com)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Governance and rebellion

Nepal's maoist-rebel-turned-PM says that heading a rebellion was easier than governing the country.


The man who led a decade long civil unrest hiding in the forests and terrorising opponents has accepted this humble fact. With guns on your side and no accountability and of course the halo of a hero surrounding you it is so much easier to quell all and any kind of opposition. But governing, even a country the size of Nepal is a mean task. The day to day squabbles of what is now succinctly described as bijli-sadak-paani may seem as boring and unexciting and actually bourgoise to some, but nothing but love for your country can make one do this task efficiently.

Perhaps, our separatist friends can take a clue from his troubles. For more than 60 years now, India has ploughed on to give some semblance of administration and governance to the troubled region, getting a train to its icy heights is just the latest feather in the cap. If you factor in the blatant hate and disregard for any form of Indian authority in Kashmir, then however weak a governance India has provided to an unthanking public, the fact remains that it still has.

One may argue that some semblance of governance even the British gave to India, and that is true! In fact, many of our present day administrative systems come from the Britishers, but they looted our resources in return while India has done no such thing to Kashmir, if anything India has painstakingly assured that Kashmir's riches remain within the region itself, even incurring the anger of the rest of the country.