Filed under: Film Musings | Tags: Ashvin Kumar, documentary, film blog, film education, film review, independent filmmaker, Inshallah Kashmir, oorvazi irani, review
Review of “Inshallah Kashmir: Living in Terror” a documentary by Ashvin Kumar
By Oorvazi Irani
When I think about Kashmir I cannot but help think of this imagery of a child who is being pulled in all directions wanting to be claimed after a bitter divorce, and my heart goes out to this child which is Kashmir and ‘living in terror’. What does this child want is not an easy answer and Ashvin Kumar has tried to delve into the heart of Kashmir to explore this question.
“On 21st August 2011 the Indian state made a historic announcement. The State Human Rights Commission admitted to 2156 unidentified bodies from 38 unmarked graves in Kashmir” this statement made in the beginning of the film by Ashvin Kumar who has written, directed and edited the film is one of the key concerns that the film revolves around, which questions the two decades of Militancy, living terror, and the irony of living in terror under the watch of a secular, democratic republic, India. An integral part of the film is about the atrocities of the law enforcers on the common man and the probe into the militant identity.
The film leads us into its narrative and the land of Kashmir with a point of view shot from the edge of a boat in the Dal lake along with the soundtrack of the Director and how he discovered this film. The shot is powerful and poetic and symbolizes the troubled waters of this beautiful land that we are about to enter. The film is largely interview based and it is the human stories that take the narrative forward including Ex Militants, a Kashmiri Pandit and the other voices of the common man in Kashmir, interspersed with views and comments by Omar Abdullah and government of India officials and experts. “Inshallah Kashmir” is culled from three hundred hours of rare footage shot in the conflict-zone of Kashmir while shooting “Inshallah, football”. This film reveals the scars of two decades of conflict through testimonies of over forty people whose families have been devastated by the conflict. In order to avoid censorship after his earlier films were banned/restrained from circulation Ashvin decided to bypass the Indian censor board and release “Inshallah Kashmir” online and free-of-charge on 26th of January 2012, India’s Republic Day.
The film as a whole develops a dialogue between the visual and the sound and the drama of real life is combined with poetic moments of pause and reflection. One such instance is the beginning of the chapter of ‘The Kashmiri Militant’. The meeting ground for the director’s first interview with a militant is a poetic imagery of dried burning leaves being swept in a football field in a village in Kashmir and the soundtrack draws us into the reflections of the director as he speaks on the militant identity “..the Kashmiri militant is not part of a single homogenized group. Differing motivations and ideologies are at play, at times working against each other…”
The film does try and make a sincere attempt at presenting a picture with varied shades and voices and has distinct chapters like ‘The Kashmiri Militant’ ‘The Kashmiri Pandit, the Hindus of Kashmir’, ‘Missing or Disappeared’, , Kids in Conflict’ etc. Is the film the whole truth? But can one film ever attempt to be? I feel its value lies in the pertinent questions that it raises; it asks you to probe and involves you in the midst of the human turmoil that Kashmir is suffering.
An independent voice not controlled by the establishment is extremely precious and the least we can do as an audience is engage ourselves meaningfully in its narrative and begin our search for truth.
For those who are yet to watch the film and for those who would like to revisit the same here’s the complete film for you all-
My Review first Published on the website http://www.madaboutmoviez.com
Filed under: Professional Talk | Tags: Ashvin Kumar, Bollywood, film appreciation, film education, filmmaking, independent filmmaker, independent filmmaking, Indian film director, little terrorist, oorvazi irani, The Forest
THE JOURNEY OF AN INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER by Ashvin Kumar
(watch his latest film “The Forest” on 4th May)
I would love o share with you Ashvin’s article on his journey as a filmmaker I think its inspiring to young independent filmmakers
Getting an Oscar nod is quite an overwhelming experience; particularly when it comes to you on your first film. Well, nearly first film.
The film I made before ‘Little Terrorist’ was ‘Road To Ladakh’. It starred Irrfan and Koel Purie. It almost didn’t get made; which is why the making-of is called ‘The Near Un-making of Road To Ladakh‘ take a look, it’s a hoot.
RTL is what I call my film-school, or what others would call ‘student-film’. Suffice to say, I had no clue what to do at the beginning of that experience. A few ideas, yes. Plus, hundreds of films watched and books read, sure and an oversupply of confidence absolutely. But in terms of making films, the seat-of-my-pants was the main mode of transport. Fortune favours the brave, they say, I think it favours the foolhardy.
Dragging a crew of forty people from various parts of the world to 15,000 feet, convincing them to fund their own air-fare (forget about fee), using tents for accommodation in the blistering cold and rain, disasters striking so often that it becomes normal. Small example: Irrfan Khan saying yes to the part, then agreeing to forgo his fee, then breaking his arm, then agreeing to come along regardless and then being attacked by altitude sickness that knocks him out cold. And yet, somehow, with dedication so rare in Bollywood, doing all that was expected of him without a fuss and turning in a brilliant performance. He deserves every award and commendation that has come his way since 2004, the year I made ‘Road To Ladakh’.
As I recall these snap-shots, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. So many things could have gone seriously wrong, how did anyone ever let me do that? I was so green, so raw. That film was funded on fumes, infectious enthusiasm and passion.
So, hard on the heels of a recognition like the nomination, comes the expectation of a repeat performance. That causes anxiety and pressure that have little or nothing to do with making films and telling stories. It has everything to do with an inflated perception of oneself and the fallacy that one has “arrived” so to speak.
The story of my debut feature film ‘The Forest‘ is as much a story of arrival at no-destination-in-particular, as it is about a remarkable collaboration of some seriously well-meaning, skilled and talented individuals drawn from around the world.
More than that, it taught me about life. It grew me up.
So, here I am, post-nomination. Do I decide to make my debut feature film about a couple in Delhi going through marital difficulty? One apartment, maybe a few car shots, maybe some second unit shots of Delhi night life – all very contained, focusing energies directing the actors, small budget. Performance driven human story about love and loss?
Instead, a remote, damp and freezing jungle location, a main character that is mostly hidden. When spotted its shown to have four legs and very large teeth. A convincing suspense thriller with what is intriguingly called a ‘love triangle’ in Bollywood. A movie that would teach me all about special effects, make up, prosthetics. All about computer graphics, compositing, visual effects, blue and green screens and how to direct an animal wrangler who in turn is trying to get a performance out of two very fierce and determined leopards.
I had no experience of a big film, I had never stepped onto a set of a crew of more than twenty people. Here we had close to two hundred. All I knew for sure is what I wanted to see on the screen. And I spent my energies on creating a team of people who would help me achieve that.
Everything the gurus will tell you to avoid, I did while making ‘The Forest‘.
I hope you enjoy watching it.
May the 4th be with you.