After Four Decades, India Gets a Kashmiri Film
After Four Decades, India Gets a Kashmiri Film
 04 January 2018

But Kashmir Daily won’t hit the big screen in the Valley as there are no functioning cinema halls there

This Friday, for the first time in 45 years, a Kashmiri feature film, shot and produced entirely in the Valley, will hit cinema halls outside Kashmir.

Kashmir Daily explores the themes of drug addiction and unemployment in Kashmir. It will be released at PVR Sangam in Delhi’s R.K. Puram and Infiniti Malad PVR in Mumbai, besides in Jammu and other smaller cities.

Ironically, the film will not see a theatrical release in Kashmir as there are no functioning cinema halls in the Valley.

“Our aim in releasing the film outside Jammu and Kashmir is to make a point: we can tell our own stories. We cannot use the excuse of lack of cinema halls in the Kashmir Valley not to create our own cinema,” actor Mir Sarwar told The Hindu.

No film industry

The fact that the film was produced in a place with no cinema halls and no film industry makes it special in many ways. Mr. Sarwar, like other actors of the film, grew up in the violence-torn Valley. He recalls that he last went to Srinagar’s cinema hall, Broadway, in 1987 to watch Anil Kapoor-starrer Inteqam. “I was a kid when I went to a cinema hall in Kashmir. Later, I used to travel 300 km to Jammu to watch movies. I would watch four shows a day to catch up with the releases,” he said.

Following the rise of militancy, all eleven cinema halls in the Valley were closed down in 1998. They never reopened, and many turned into flour mills or even hospitals.

Shot and edited entirely in the Valley, Kashmir Daily, according to producer and director Hussein Khan, is a step towards “nourishing” an otherwise dead film industry. “It was a dream to make a film in Kashmir. I have spent hundreds of sleepless nights in post-production,” Mr. Khan said.

In Hindustani, Kashmiri

“We made the film in two languages, Hindustani and Kashmiri. Every shot was done twice, in each of these languages. We felt that if the film was not in Kashmiri, then it was not Kashmir cinema. It was hectic but we did it,” said Mr. Sarwar, who plays the role of a journalist investigating the drug mafia.

The film has been screened at two convention centres in Kashmir to a limited audience. “It’s a big day to watch the film on a real cinema screen,” Mr. Sarwar, who has acted in Bollywood movies like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, said.

“I expect more independent film-makers to come forward and make films. We have paved the way. It’s less difficult for others to follow,” Mr. Sarwar added. Raja Bilal, the film’s music director, said all talent was hired from J&K to lend “a very local flavour”.

It was in 1972 that the last Kashmiri film Shayar-e-Kashmir Mehjoor hit cinema halls. Two locally made films, Partav and Akh Daleel Looluch, produced in the past two decades, failed to get released in cinemas.

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