Cast: Farida Jalal, Imran Khan, Indraneil Sengupta, Hasan Zaidi, Alok Nath, Sara Afreen Khan, Aditi Bhatia, Shahbaz Khan
Director: Vijay Verma and Imran Khan
A photographer Vikram Roy (Indraneil Sengupta) on a calendar assignment for a Kashmir Bank and his friend Aryan Raina (Hassan Zaidi), who comes on board as his assistant, set out on a road trip through Kashmir. Along the way they meet up with an NRI student Sheena Oberoi (Sara Afreen Khan), doing a Ph.D. thesis on Kashmir and a bank employee, Imran Dar (Imran Khan) both of whom tag along for the eye-opening journey through Kashmir.
As the film’s main intent is to humanize the Kashmiris and look beyond their terrorism ordeals, it’s expected that the audience would be subjected to a kind hearted and loving, cultural rich and traditional people who help reaffirm the quartet’s faith in humanity and bring about the much-needed change in perception of the place. If only things were that easy.
No doubt there’s more to Kashmir than terrorism but the mainstream portrayal of the valley as a strife torn zone is not going to be easy to delete from the collective conscience- especially since, almost everyday, there’s news of some violent incident occurring in the valley.
Sargoshiyan means ‘whisper,’ synonymous with the genteel nature of the people being highlighted here. And it is as though the directors had to go searching high and dry for these people. When violence has become almost an indelible part of life in Kashmir, it seems almost prudish to highlight only peace in pockets untouched by it.
The Kashmiriyat (native secularism that existed since centuries) on display is well taken but suggesting that these very same people don’t have a viewpoint or idea about what their role is in saving the state from further deterioration, is doing them a disservice. The script by the director duo is totally caught up in deploying a synthetic study of the valley and its people.
The lack of active violence in the film is definitely a boon but when combined with an unbelievably sterilized and compartmentalized set of disconnected reality, it comes across as fake and implausible.
The filmmakers could of course have done better with a focus on just one family’s struggle to stay away from violence and keep Kashmiriyat alive. That would have made a much more powerful impact than this un-relatable attempt to look the other way. There is a fair bit of drama and some strong performances too but it’s just not enough to cover up the reality that is Kashmir today.