[ comment: sanjay kak ]

In less than five months Jashn-e-Azadi has criss-crossed the country in a series of previews for small, focused groups: film-makers, media-activists, the press, academics, and most importantly, students. This blog has tried to share the excitement of the screenings, and always drawn attention to the quite serious reactions to it, from audiences, in the press, and here on the net.

So after more than a dozen previews (and one excellent public screening at a film festival in New Delhi) the incidents of last week, when the Mumbai Police clumsily stepped in to stop two of our screenings, came as something of a shock. I know it should not have been. From the very first screening (in fact even before the very first preview) a small group of people had made it their mission to follow the film around and appear to stop it from circulating. (Appear to, because they too know that they cannot actually stop the film, but they do know that there is mileage to be got from appearing to stop it).

Initially this took the form of vituperative flaming on the net, a space that has unfortunately become the happy hunting ground of every sort of extreme bully. These net-warriors (net-bullies, really) are living out a sort of fantasy life on the web, able to say what they want about the film, abuse, propagate falsehoods, lie, whatever. And all the time imagine that what they are doing is some form of activism. Unfortunately this can only work when no one has seen the film. With every preview (and press report) on the film, more and more people are making up their own minds about Jashn-e-Azadi.

As a film-maker, I don’t claim that everyone who has seen the film loves it, or agrees with it completely, or clutches it’s arguments to their bosom and stops thinking beyond it. Because that would be a failure for the film. My Editor, Tarun Bhartiya, and I have often spoken about this during the long process of editing. We didn’t want to end up with a film that people liked: it was much more important for us to share our sense of disturbance. Indeed we would only begin to register our success when people were troubled by it, argued with it, but were at least pushed to break the horrible silence in Indian public life on Kashmir.

In Mumbai, a few journalists asked me why Kashmiri Pandits were “against” the film, since that was what they had been given to believe. This I refuse to accept: of the many Kashmiri Pandits who have seen the film, many have been disturbed by the film, not at the film; they have been troubled by it’s arguments, not by it’s makers. Simply because a small bunch of people, the net-bullies, have decided to make political capital out of opposing the film, grandstanding for the sake of their own narrow interests, does not mean we should accede to them the entire swathe of what we can call “Kashmiri Pandit” opinion. I have spoken to enough Pandits who think otherwise after watching the film.

One small example of this dissembling: from our first preview in Delhi in March, there have been these fantasies that we had invited Yasin Malik to be the Chief Guest at the preview; that since he figures in the verite footage of the film, he was somehow the “hero” of the film. (I wonder why they didn’t instead think of one of the young Army Officers in the film as the “hero” of  the film; or why the Pyschiatrist in the film doesn’t qualify; or indeed the civil society people who are conducting a survey of the dead?) That the film was in some mysterious way “linked” to Yasin Malik. Most ingeniously that the JKLF’s recent campaign in rural Kashmir was called Safar-e-Azadi; this film was called Jashn-e-Azadi. Ergo, they must have a common “source”! And since they feel Yasin Malik is a “terrorist and a mass murderer” this film was clearly sympathetic to “terrorism”. Quite neat isn’t it, the way it ties up for our net-detectives?

Yasin Malik came to the screening of Jashn-e-Azadi like 300 other people in Delhi: he heard of the screening, he called to check, he arrived on time at the hall, he collected an entry pass, and he sat and watched the film. He did not, like our net-warriors, arrive late, arrive with placards condemning the film, (even before they had seen the film) and since the hall was full and the security were not keen on letting protesters into the hall, turn this into yet another example of how Kashmiri Pandits were being discriminated against. (Sometimes I feel like redirecting the energies of this bunch to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has also met with Mr Malik. “Terrorist and a mass murderer”, whatever!)

The new fantasy is that since the film is not the what they want it to be, it is sympathetic to “terrorists”. Simple isn’t it? Can’t argue with something, give it a label that will attract the attention of the ever-zealous security apparatus, then keep repeating it till some of it appears to stick. No argument to offer about the brutal dispossession of the rural poor in Chattisgarh? Call the civil-rights people “naxalites”. No argument to offer about the politics of what is happening in Kashmir? Call the film-makers “anti-national”.

All this would be inconsequential, and indeed laughable, if the Mumbai Police had not pitched in to help carry out their mandate. At our first preview at the Bhupesh Gupta Bhawan, Mumbai, we had 40 people gathered on the 2nd floor of a private building. Downstairs was the Dy Commissioner of Police, the Incharge, Dadar Police Station, two sub-inspectors and two constables in uniform, five plain-clothes intelligence men, and one woman constable: 12 members of the Mumbai Police. At our second preview at Prithvi House, Juhu, the local Police Station had sent in a written letter telling the management to desist from showing the film. Or else be prepared to face the consequences. Heavy artillery for a confrontation that simply didn’t happen.

When this blog was set up March 2007, in the last weeks of finishing Jashn-e-Azadi, we needed a short and pithy way to describe it. More out of instinct than reason, I described it as a new film that “raises questions about freedom in Kashmir, and about the degrees of freedom in India.” The events of last week make that casually written sentence seem almost prophetic.


13 Responses to “[ comment: sanjay kak ]”

  1. 1 vivek raina August 5, 2007 at 7:49 pm

    hi man……
    just went through ur blog… remember the Delhi screening… remember the first floor… and remember the guy standing there… the first voice that came… calling yasin a murderer… the guy in the blue shirt who started all ruckus… after which all those kashmiri pandit “I AM YOUR BIG BROTHERS” found their voice… and were a lil more vociferous… and a little more assertive… Well that was me…”was” is the key word…

    the group of people who you didnt mention is your blog is called RIK (Roots in Kashmir)… well i dont really know if they wanna gain mileage outta it like you said… and trust me i don’t care.

    About the documentary… It was well made… which proves you are a director of caliber… congrats.
    also the content was well selected..and you had done your home work well… another congrats for that.

    A little about my anger ventilation… and a little about explaining why i did what i did that night that must have pissed you off… and so many people there

    1. I dont care if you just showed the one side of the story… as a director thats your creative right. My problem with the movie is you in your movie tried to justify things that we all know are wrong. IF Indian army is killing kashmiri folks there. That is wrong… and if a people want to get freedom that is genuine… but you were justifying the gun culture in the movie. As a human being you know how much have the common kashmiris suffered because of this.

    2. You got people in the screening… (Mr yasin malik) and quoted people… and interviewed people… who have advocated gun culture in the valley. That shouldn’t have been done. I mean cmon u r a good director.. And good director always judges the sensitivity of the issue. You know killing is wrong. U know two wrongs don’t make one right.Yasin malik knows hes killed people… so please .. i humbly bed thee… to enlighten me as to why did you have to do something like that.

    3. What angered me more was that you are a kashmiri pandit. A kashmiri pandit would never ever… even if he was killed… ever take to violence… or justify violence… and some gentle man in in your movie said “META PHYSICAL WAR”… with what????/ with guns??????????

    4.You didn’t address the basic problems of the valley… is it just that people want freedom and they are not getting it that they are pissed off…????? isnt it the economic disparity, the unemployment rate… the mass PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), the fear of gun, poor institutions, corruption… thats hurting the valley more… than the para military forces. WHY FREEDOM? who do people want to be free form a govt… because their needs (emotional, personal, psychological, economic, spiritual) are not somehow fulfilled under a given regime… u not even once mentioned that. It was a masala film under the pretext of a documentary.

    5. where did you elucidate on the true nature of kashmiris… are kashmiris just about… freedom struggles… and wars… and getting killed… when u study a revolution… there has to be some reference to the mind set of the man thats running the revolution. that key elementary factor was missing.

    LOOK DUDE I AM LIBERAL.. if Kashmir one day is a separate country… ill be happy to be there.. if with India ill still be happy… When that lady… again in the balcony asked you about the fate of kashmiri pandits u said.. u feel for them.. and u would like to treat the topic independently… because of its sensitivity…
    but dude… i think the topic u were dealing with in your movie was even more sensitive than kashmiri pandit topic… cuz those folks have been living there and facing hell… we just left… and started fresh…

    do u think i would ever want you to( seeing ur level of sensitivity) ever want to see ur movie on kashmiri pandits…
    theres a lot more to say… but a mail sounds so much like a soliloquy.. i prefer listening…
    I hope u wont mind chatting it over a cuppa coffee… after all the frenzy (all the screenings, and when u have time) settles down…



  2. 2 Alferd August 6, 2007 at 11:07 am

    I have been to Kashmir, three times from 1990-2001. Tho I didn’t a chance to see the movie here in US (I hope Sanjaay screens it here someday or atleast make his documentary available online), I read the reviews. It looks like an honest effort.

    I won’t comment on sheer bullying tactics being adopted to silence creative folks in India but ideally intelligence is the capacity to receive, decode and transmit information efficiently. Stupidity is blockage of this process at any point. Bigotry, ideologies etc. block the ability to receive; censorship and false information being spread agaisnt the film by ‘Stop-it-or-I’ll-bully-you-kinds simply blocks this transmission.

    Cheers folks, you can’t claim be liberal if you challenge a certain point of view by stupid harrassment and censorship.

    Alferd, Minnesota

  3. 3 Simran August 6, 2007 at 11:21 am

    People like Ashok Pandit critisize the movie. Look like a classical case of Look who’s talking. Mr Ashok prides to be a Kashmiri yet ONLY about the plight of his KP brethern. When did he ever say something about the KM’s ordeal? Now that someone rises up to speak the truth, the one-flop film wonder is saying, oh you know we should ban it.


  4. 4 A Soul in Exile August 6, 2007 at 11:31 am


    This post of yours gives an impression that it’s the Kashmiri Pandit’s who are the tormentors here. Applaud-able play of words…Indeed you do have some creative flame…I can gather that much from this post, even without seeing your movie.

    Your play of words in dissociating from Yasin Malik – the terrorist turned political torchbearer, was impressive.

    Mr Kak, would you kindly oblige and set straight your opinion on Yasin Malik. Do you consider him a hero or a villain…? Do you deny his role in numerous cold blooded killings and terror acts? Do you condone or condemn those acts? Given the prowess with words and truck-loads of judicious opinions you are loaded with – NO comments or avoidance isnt an option for you.

    Your movie gives a colour to the protestors- that of vindictive, rampaging hooligans. Did you even care to figure out and approach these guys and girls… who otherwise have no political or criminal background? You find those who have led shootouts and bombings as inspirational leaders and guides, and a bunch of young teachers, professionals, students as hooligans just because they dared ask you questions about your motive of making a purely one-sided document.

    Your words that “Issue of Kashmiri Pandits is a separate topic” don’t go well with any rationale… How can you talk of violence in Kashmir, without talking in as much detail about half-a-million populace impacted by the violence perpetrated by the Jehadi machinery? How can you talk of the death and destruction without talking of the thousands who were kicked out of their homes? How can you talk of Human Rights – totally ignoring the human rights of the minority totally trampled upon just because they belonged to a different religion? How can you talk of self-determination totally ignoring the plight of the thousands who got uprooted purely because their self-determination was to stick to their Indian identity?
    How can you talk of Jashn-e-Azadi and ignore the dard of being be-ghar (homeless) of the Pandits?

    Sanjay ji, I am yet to fathom your motive behind painting a purely one-sided picture…Each coin has two faces. A one-faced coin is just a counterfeit and ought to be rejected.

    -A Soul in Exile
    A victim of the Jehadi’ terrorists you think are hero’s…

  5. 5 Juz A Kashmiri August 7, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    I can tell you one thing; In the last 17 years of the strife – and I have been in Kashmir during the most tumultuous times of the last two decades – I have grown up from a scenario where everyone used to treat militants as God-send, to the time when a sizable chunk felt it safe to maintain a safe distance from them. We have seen many upheavals during these years and we have seen repeated massacres (on either side), crackdowns at unearthly hours (mind you even during day-time crack down has been a nightmarish experience), identification parades (where the blaring of a horn was a matter of life and death), cross-firing, grenade attacks, IED blasts and what not. Without taking sides I want to convey here that the trials and tribulations have certainly not made us numb and we are still ready to face what is coming our way.

    I do acknowledge that what Kashmiri Pandits underwent, in terms of loss of their culture and identity, is a collosal damage which is difficult to be reversed so easily. But at the same point of time I am pretty sure you’d agree that Kashmiri Muslims too are not themselves responsible for what they have had to bear. Why I say that is because the armed struggle in 1989 was a culmination of so many wrong-doings of successive governments both at the central and the state level. Rigging in ‘87 polls was just the proverbial ‘last straw which broke camel’s back’.

    I am really surprised that people like ‘A soul in Exile’ are asking the questions rather than contributing to the feeling of togetherness that we want for each other… You have come up with your list, I’d love to come up with mine; but it will not serve my purpose and indeed has the potential to defeat it. So I wont be reacting in kind.

    To me what is most important is the belief in Holy Qur’an which mentions in unequivocal terms that to kill an innocent being is like killing entire humanity (Al Quran 5:32). Need I say more, the murderer of an innocent human being is definitely looked down upon by me like every Muslim who believes in the life hereafter. This is a matter of faith and you cannot question that.

    But what has disappointed me the most is the fact that you do not want to forget the past. I hate to quantify the loss of human lives but I think you may have to coin one more term for the way in which ordinary Kashmiri Muslims (100,000 of them) have fallen prey to bullets from Brave Indian soldiers. I just pray that Kashmiri Muslims do intend to forget the bloodshed otherwise the end to this suffering is not in sight.

    The coin, they say is, never one-sided. The way you see it, alas, is.

    Juz A Kashmiri

  6. 6 saiba shaina August 12, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    ive been thinking very hard…ive put myself in my most conservative avatar and yet i cannot find any reason for this film to not be screened. (and this is NOT about a censor cert).

    Finally there is a film that can force us to look within ourselves, question all our innocent definitions of democrazy, azadi, jumuriat.

    Barkha dutt hanging out in a bunker in kargil upset me more…seriously.
    whichever way see this film…we need to see it. once and then again.

    let it really upset and anger us…let us confront all the loopholes…and hear sanjay kak say yet again…that his film is NOT about Pakistan funded militancy, NOT about the sad but true fate of 1,75000 Kashmiri Pandits, NOT even about Kashmiriyat or the real-politiks in kashmir.

    Let it rankle us no end…but let us think through these images…and think through all we hear and see on mainstream media.

    At a recent screening Sanjay Kak defended why he didn’t have on-camera interviews with ordinary kashmiri citizens…he said- im not sure i would be getting anything ‘true’ out of them.

    this is very telling…and in one sense validates most of the trajectories in the film.

    Just confront the film–see it without filters. its not telling you anything about kashmir really…yet its angering you.

    as for this whole deal about yasin malik being the hero…i don’t mean to defend him or sanjay kak…but he was there for precisely one short sequence (in a film made up of 16 sequences) and spoke some normal rhetoric, the kind i hear often from the shiv sena, bjp or leftist leadership.

    anyway, i really feel this film needs to be watched — if only for this averse reaction from an audience…is that what all the protesters and self appointed censors of this film are fearing…that this film which actually tells us very little might actually alter our minds a great deal???

    For all those who are happy and gloating about the fact that the mumbai police swooped down on the screenings and successfully banned the film…

    heres a post-film conversation that happened a few days later…

    you will need VLC player to view. (which you can download at http://www.videolan.org/vlc/ )

    the videos can be downloaded at


  7. 7 smita August 13, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    Just reading these responses to the film especially from people who claim never to have seen the film leaves me with the thought of how badly such a perspective as the film aimed at was required. At least for us Indians.

    My father, an army officer posted in kashmir in the early nineties was always stumped when i asked why the Kashmiris wanted freedom. I was even more mystified when later in gatherings of officers and families, at both official and non official occasions, conspiracies were exchanged and built upon like a game of chinese whisper. Never, even by mistake was it mentioned in any way – discussion, debate, argument anything, that Kashmir was not as natural a part of India as we have been made to believe.

    Obviously, we learnt it on our own later but we still got stumped at one major point time and again. Always everything, every discussion, every talk of kashmir, its current armed and bloody struggle would take a turn and go around to the violence towards the pandit community and never immerge from it to look beyond- or actually back at when and why it started. Self determination is still a fancy phrase if you ask my father- to cover an Islamic movement against a hindu state. May be for some that would have been a rallying point, but was this all there was to it? Or could there be other factors? Is it a crime to dig deeper and understand? Or at least attempt to?

    Violence. Extreme acts of aggression committed against a minority community. Terrible acts such as they were and I am sure are still frequent enough to be responsible for the exodus of much of the kashmiri pandit community from Kashmir, we have to realize and I say it in the gentlest of ways, that to understand the beginnings of a conflict, to understand and acknowledge the roots of dissent is not the same as bestowing heroism on the perpetrators of such acts.

    To see the passion and the fervor of a people trying to disengage from India and to witness their struggle, to see in their folk lore, music, poetry a sense of loss, a history of servitude and oppression, a sense of humiliation borne by the community through centuries does not support, or in any way justify violence against the kashmiri pandits.

    Is it so difficult to see?

    Does this mean that we may never move beyond judging the Kashmir conflict from any other perspective than that of the pandit community’s exodus? Will it bring us any closer to any understanding of the issue at hand or should we just close the chapter at the happy note of tit for tat for the piling corpses of the muslim kashmiris responsible for the ‘national crisis’?

    What has been done to the pandit community was terrible. And nobody is in denial of that. The only thing which a lot of us Indians ARE in denial of, is what the ‘other side’ wants. And why they want it. But the fact remains that whether we approve of it or not, they DO want it, there politicians we decided to throw into jails wanted it, their parents wanted it, their children are dying for want of it, can we close our ears and eyes and just scream bloody murder at them and hope to erase them from the face of India and snatch peace from them?

    Everytime an attempt is made to understand the struggle should we all raise our voices and crush it in the name of nationalism or hinduism or patriotism (which are all increasing interchangeable today anyway) or even vengeance?

    Cant we for once just listen? Is it too much to ask for? And if we see or hear something that does not sound fair to us, cant we analyse and put it in words that express something other than a loud shrill series of abusive viscious accusations of glorifying terrorism?

    Is that the only choice? Either you are with the terrorists or with us?

    And If I were to go looking for a struggle armed or otherwise and only choose to understand those which suite my sensibility, my principles, my ethics, I may not really be with any choice whatsoever. No movement, no resistance will be without its share of ‘black spots’, but then to deny it its existence, its meaning, its history and to rally around to crush every attempt at a fresh discussion is just an expression of a mentality dipped in hatred, intolerance and prejudice.

  8. 8 Shafeeq Valanchery August 14, 2007 at 10:10 am

    This was something i had to ask after the screening at TEAFLU, Hyderabad:
    In your docu, the resistance seem to have the language of Islam, also there is this reference to ‘Intifada”. Now, even though an influence of cable TV, intifada carries other connotations too, of an Islamic struggle against the infidel imperialists.
    So, what exactly is the role of Islam, is it a garb in which resistance carries itself forward? or is it a programme in itself?
    Is Kashmir existing in a metaphysical space (of course, a resistance fighter was pointing to metaphysical battle) for the Kashmiris, in oneness with Palestine and Chechnya, or are they aware of the concrete geopolitics which then can’t avoid Pakistan from referencing? Can’t that be one of the reason why while West is so familiar to Kashmiris, South is so distant?

  9. 10 jk_pul August 18, 2007 at 10:25 am

    This is what Islam teaches us. May such spirit prevail among all Muslims! All hindus are humans first, hindus second. We believe Allah or God or Baghwan created us all, the distinction has been created by humans only. Kashmir zindabad!

  10. 11 Ashley Tellis September 16, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Lousy film, lousier director

    Sanjay Kak’s Jashn-e-Azadi, translated inexplicably as How We Celebrate Freedom instead of just Celebration of Freedom, makes clear in that error of translation that its solidarity is with the shahids of Kashmir, that is its ordinary people martyred to the incredible violence of the Indian state, especially its agency, the Indian army. Yet Kak’s film is a illustration of how a politics of solidarity when not carefully articulated can end up being quite counterproductive and reiterate the worst stereotypes about communities and situations of conflict.

    Drawing heavily on the literary (particularly poetry), on dramatic juxtapositions, on pictorial and textual contrasts, Kak’s first fatal flaw is that he leaves all the poetry to the Kashmiri Muslims (apart from a fairly offensive flourish for the Kashmiri pundits who are not critiqued at all) and relies on more conventional techniques in his representation of the Indian army and other agencies. This sets up a dichotomy between two sets of images that saturate the film and form the structuring principle of it, images of different density and depth. When we see the state, we see naked instrumentality, brute violence and relentless surveillance. This is how it is and this is how it must be represented. But when we encounter the shahids, we get poetry, affective bluster and inchoate rage. The dangerous effect of that is that it only reinforces the image of the Muslim, Kashmiri or otherwise, as irrational, affectively overwired and full of little more than bluster and inarticulate rage at the hands of powerful oppression. Scenes of enraged Muslims beating their chests, screaming for more of their own blood to be spilled in the cause of martyrdom, screaming an Islamic spiritualism robs them of any of the very material resentments they have, the very real effects of the violence of the Indian army on their bodies.

    That Kak wastes large swathes of documentary time merely repeating this dichotomy in a series of repetitive images sets one’s teeth on edge and makes the film tiresome. Had an hour of it been edited out, it would not have made much difference. But, more importantly, the differing densities of the images mean that one is not allowed to develop any understanding of the logics of martyrdom, the languages of affect and spirituality in the Kashmiri Muslim consciousness. None of this is given space; indeed it is smothered by a filmic narrative clotted with literary (poetic) reference and images of heightened affective resonance at a banal, obvious level.

    The second main problem with the film is gendered politics. On the one hand, a maleness and phallic universe mark it. We mainly hear the voices of men and when we hear women, they are enraged about what has happened to their men and marching for them. We know that in villages like Doda, Indian army officials have raped practically every woman in the village. Yet we do not get any women talking about what happens to them, what they think about the predominantly, if not exclusively, male bastion of martyrs and martyrdom.

    Further, this phallic nature of the film feminizes Kashmiri Muslim men as well. Kashmiri Muslim men are, on the other hand, invariantly represented as docile bodies ready to be martyred and held in collective memory as martyrs. The jihadis are only grainy images with no political programme articulated or enunciated. The men given narrative space are either poets or mad men but in neither case is their narrative afforded any more than a surface texture.

    The poetic then, as the main mode in Jashn-e-Azadi, amounts to little more than ornamentation and, as such, becomes dangerous. Using the poetic (as in poetic text) as a mode in documentary film-making is an audacious move, but Kak does not calibrate it enough to make it suggest depth or develop into perspective. Thus his account of the Kashmiri pundit exodus becomes little more than precious and in fact evacuates the pundits of all political responsibility for their own role in what led to the exodus. To place the fate of the Kashmiri pundits on the same plane as what Kashmiri Muslims have faced from independence onwards in Kashmir, which is, in effect, what Kak’s flattening poetics does, is to distort history.

    PS: If you have to see this film, please try and attend a screening where Kak is not present. I had the misfortune of attending a screening where he was present and at his obnoxious frat boy best. When I raised some of the questions above, he made up his mind about what the point of my questions was before even carefully listening to them, trivialized them and stereotyped questions like the gender one into some sort of ‘why must all films must be gender equitable’ sort of nonsense that made engaging with him seem useless. In answering other people’s questions, his answers ranged, like every Old Boy’s Club member’s does, from the amazingly articulate to the frighteningly unreconstructed. For example, he said one of the heroes of the film for him (who needs heros except people with hero complexes themselves?) was a perfectly obnoxious psychiatric doctor who runs a trauma treatment tent in Kashmir. The fact that Kak has a) no critique of psychiatry as a model of ‘treatment’ at all, especially in frighteningly painful contexts of psychological violence b) finds nothing objectionable in the ready and appalling categories in which the doctor classifies people which are clearly violent in their own ways, c) sees nothing wrong in his offensive referring to a Kashmiri patient as a drug addict and therefore needing a special attitude d) applauds his pathetic and self-aggrandizing handing of petty amounts of money under the table (!) to patients, and calls such a figure a hero made me frightened for the Kashmiris on whose side Kak is.

    With such friends, who needs the Indian state?

  11. 12 Amit Raina December 9, 2007 at 6:02 am

    Whether the film is sympathetic to Kashmiri Hindus or not, the fact is that any thing about Kashmir is irrelevant with Kashmiri Hindus. If you are an honest film maker, you can’t be selective about what you want to show and what you want to hide. Kashmiri Hindus are against the movie because you can clearly see that the effort was not for a truth but for a award through deception and hiding of facts.

  12. 13 younis September 15, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Screening Jeshan e Azadi
    By Younis Malik
    How much difficult it would have been for Sanjay Kak to make Jashan e Azadi? I realized this only once I decided to apparoch HoD for its screening in the department!
    During my summer vaccations at home, I got Jeshan e Azadi VCD. I had read a lot about it about it in newspapers & magazines. I was curious what Mr Kak is narrating all about? As of the traditions of ‘media’ covering Kashmir , films about Kashmir, & analysis said about Kashmir , I thought Jashan e Azadi would be like what people outside Kashmir percieve about.
    But, Sanjay Kak proved me wrong! First time I saw a person living outside telling the story of the inside in sync narration of what Kashmiris aspire to.
    Indeed past is infront of you.And you resist to the losses due to the change. Moreover there is limit ‘it is now enough’ realization.
    Back to the classes I approached our HoD for screening it in the dpartment. I wished others to know my story. He nodded “no problem”, as I handed him the VCD, along with the reviews & interviews of Mr Kak as ‘defence’. Still it took two weeks for the Saturday to come, I sitting on the extream right of first row with Sanjay Kak telling the story of Kashmir – How we celibrate freedom?
    As expected some 50 students along with the faculty were in the studio to know Kashmir, which they thought [perhaps] is as any part of India with just ‘law & order’ problem messed up with the support of Pakistan. They were mesmerizing the Bollywood movies – they usually bang on – the indian army fighting with the ‘enemy’ in the back drop of a romantic love story.
    But, I was knowing their perceptions are going to be pricked out by the stainless razor. I gave the straw brief of the history of Kashmir. The election & selection of late 80’s [that is going to deluge their jashan of watching the movie]. I don’t know why people take Kashmir just as a religious issue between two communities with Pakistan as the main perpetrator. This happened exactly as I was wraping up the intro of Kashmir in five minutes, now going almost to half an hour. Kashmir is a pandaro’s box. It explodes with chain of perceptions & view points once put on the table.
    As the play button was pressed, Bandipore 2004, people running in choas, loud gun shots….the eye brows raised, ears peeped open, eyes dry, still silence…. But this soon got lost – an exhausted audience as the film proceeded. They got blunded by the unexpected they were not even thinking about.
    Till the intermission it was ok. As they returned back, they enquired about the timing of the film. I know, it is little lengthy, Mr Kak should have kept this in his mind! But it is Kashmir, very difficult to summate in less time.
    At the end of the film, I just looked back from the front row, there were only 25-30 people now. With the coming up of the titles of the cast, everyone was packing their belongings too.
    I was disappointed but not discouraged as my story was put through. I was expecting a ‘debate’ after the screening. I wanted people to understand the gravity of the issue. What it means to be born & brought up in a situation like ‘Jeshan e Azadi’. But [unfortunately]the content of the film repelled them away. If this is the connotation of people about these like issues, I am afraid of the happenings after ‘limit is enough’?

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Jashn-e-Azadi is available through various online outlets like amazon

You can now buy a DVD of the film, or Download it and watch
More than two years in the making, Jashn-e-azadi [How We Celebrate Freedom], is a feature length documentary by film-maker Sanjay Kak which explores the implications of the struggle for Azadi, for freedom, in the Kashmir valley.

Click here to watch the Trailer

As India celebrates the 60th anniversary of it's Independence, this provocative and quietly disturbing new film raises questions about freedom in Kashmir, and about the degrees of freedom in India.

And here is a short Interview with the film-maker.

This Jashn-e-Azadi blog is an open forum for conversations about the film, about Kashmir, and about Azadi itself.

For more information about screenings, sales and broadcast write to


For dispatches from the present

Voices of protest can be found here or call you from here

Stone in my hand

In the season of solutions, the late Eqbal Ahmad's wise words have to be remembered

Kashmir blog has the best one line blog take on Kashmir - they call it paradise, I call it home.

Zarafshan is a Kashmiri blogger whose blog (and blogrolls) are "just ways of dispersing news, views and feelings!"

For a considered discussion on the vexed issue of Pandits in Kashmir see Kasheer. And for more on this Ephemeral Existence

And a discovery called Paradise Lost

RSS Kashmir via Greater Kashmir

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Festival screenings

May 26, 2008 / International Video Festival of Kerala
Apr 28, 2008 / Dok.Fest
Feb 10, 2008 / Himalaya Film Festival
Nov 28, 2007 / International Documentary Festival
Oct 12, 2007 / Film South Asia
July 22, 2007 / Osian’s Cinefan film festival

Previous Previews

7 Dec 2007 / School of Oriental & African Studies & Sacred Media Cow
6 Dec 2007 / Workshop Theatre, School of English, University of Leeds
Egham, Surrey
3 Dec 2007 / Royal Holloway, University of London
New Delhi
26 Nov 2007 / Russian Centre of Science & Culture & Magic Lantern Foundation

New Jersey
Oct 5, 2007 / College of New Jersey
New York City
Oct 4, 2007 / Columbia School of Journalism
Oct 2, 2007 / University of Texas
Sep 28, 2007 / Temple University
Sep 27, 2007 / University of Pennsylvania
New York State
Sep 26, 2007 / Vassar College
New York City
Sep 25, 2007 / New School for Social Research
Sep 23, 2007 @ MIT
Sep 22, 2007 / SALDA
Sep 21, 2007 / University of Toronto
New Haven
Sep 20, 2007 / Yale University
Sep 18, 2007 / University of Minnesota

Aug 10, 2007 / Pure Docs, Prasad Preview, Banjara Hills

interrupted previews!! [[ MUMBAI ...
July 27, 2007 (Fri)
Vikalp: Films for Freedom @ Bhupesh Gupta Bhawan, 85 Sayani Road, Prabhadevi
July 30, 2007 (Mon)
Vikalp: Films for Freedom @ Prithvi House, Juhu...]]

July 14, 2007 / Institute of Agrl. Technologies, Queens Road
July 13, 2007 / Centre for Film & Drama, Millers Road
June 13, 2007, Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar Hall
June 12, 2007, National Film Archive of India Auditorium
May 29, 2007, Blue Moon Hotel
May 26, 2007, Assam Club, Laban
May 12, 2007, Hindi Bhavan Hall
March 31, 2007, Tagore Hall
New Delhi
March 23, 2007, Sarai-CSDS
New Delhi
March 13, 2007, India Habitat Center



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