Cast: Rasika Duggal, Sumit Kaul, Vikas Kumar, Talha Arshad Reshi, Basheer Lone, Gurveer Singh, Ashraf Nagoo, Mir Sarwar
Director: Aijaz Khan
Rating: * * * *
An eloquent amalgamation of the contrasting positions in strife-torn Kashmir, this film by Aijaz Khan appeals for a deeper understanding of issues that govern the state of unrest in the incredibly beautiful land of a people seemingly alienated from mainstream India because of political maleficence.
This film is a story of an eight year old young boy, Hamid (Talha Arshad Reshi) and his half-widow mother Ishrat (Rasika Duggal) grappling with the disappearance of their Father/Husband Rehmat (Sumit Kaul) – a boat maker who one night stepped out to buy his son spare batteries so that the young boy could listen to the cricket match commentary when the lights go out.
It’s a heart-rending portrayal of the anguish experienced by victims of the conflict on both sides. Contrasting with Hamid’s story is that of the aggressive CRPF jawan Abhay (Vikas Kumar), suffering from PTSD, grappling with a shameful guilt of his own, trying to find recourse in an aggressive stance that could further alienate the population he is policing.
While Hamid is trying to deal with the guilt of having made his father go out for a frivolous purpose, his mother Ishrat, has become a sort of zombie overcome with anger and pain, completely devastated by the cruel curve life has thrown her way. On the other side, the CRPF jawan grappling with his own demons, has to also deal with an administration that appears rather unfeeling to the yearning for some solace and communion with his loved ones.
Hamid, too young to understand the politics behind disappearing Kashmiri citizens, is looking to Allah when he inadvertently connects with the CRPF jawan. And it is this connection between the unlikely friends that hurtles this story towards restitution and redemption for the two sides imprisoned in the conflict.
This film is amongst the most sensitive, balanced and heart-stopping representations of the conflict that has grown into a cancer that may seem impossible to cure.
Director Aijaz Khan though, doesn’t appear to have lost hope and that is borne out by the manner in which he, along with Ravinder Randhawa, structures this eulogy that rekindles hope with an innate understanding of the psyches of the people in the conflict – exhorting both sides to let go off the anger and despair and wholeheartedly embrace the human within.
Terrific performances from the entire cast – especially the young boy Talha and Rasika Duggal with blindingly eloquent widescreen cinematography support from John Wilmor’s humanising camera, succinct editing by Afzal S.Shaikh, appropriate costuming by Manish Tiwari, and eloquent music by Andrew T Mackay. This film talks peace through its poignant depiction of love, loss and forgiveness while giving the victims (all) enough room to emerge from their situations of despair into a world of hope!