A young student at Delhi University has written a report of a recent screening of the film at Ramjas College. It was published in the Rising Kashmir a new English language daily from Srinagar, Kashmir.
For the net lazy, we’re pasting it below too.
Jashn-e-Azadi: A screening
Jashn-e-Azadi is a film made by noted film-maker Sanjay Kak. The film has triggered off a heated debate at all its screening-spots, whether in India or abroad, so far. Suvaid Yaseen captures the description of screening at Ramjas College, New Delhi
After planning and re-planning for quite a few months. Finally, the film screening was finalized. Somebody called the Principal in the morning. He asked for the film screening to be stopped as it would hurt some people’s ‘dharmic bhavnaayein’ (religious sentiments). The request, not so humble, was refused.
So, it started at the proposed time with around twenty-five people in the seminar room of Ramjas College. The number was good enough considering it was March as exams in DU are too close and students prefer to complete their assignments than watch a documentary film on some ‘Jashn’ of some ‘Azadi’ somewhere. No prizes for guesses now. The film to be shown, of course, was Jashn-e-Azadi. A film, impossible to ignore, even though people have had varied opinions from one extreme to the other extreme.
Two hours and ten minutes. Entirely new perspective for most in the audience. Shocking, disturbing like never before. Face to face with a reality unseen, unheard, unexpected till the play-button set the disc rolling. No surprises that many were clearly uncomfortable with what they were exposed to. Used to ‘we are the good guys and they are the bad guys cliché’. The film reached its end
“Thanks for the bold perspective, the film puts forward.” a lady remarked.
Then the inevitable and oft-repeated question.
“Isn’t the film biased towards the Indian army?”
“Not at all…” was the firm answer from Sanjay Kak, the director of the film.
From being accused of being a Muslim (secretly), to a shame for Kashmiri pundits and the like, he has seen it all. He has been answering questions of all kinds ever since he started making the film. Quite experienced now, I guess. “I am not showing you the army killing, torturing and raping. I have just shown their mere presence and the after effects of violence which people face.” Well reasoned. If just showing of the army on screen seems biased, what would it be like amidst them? The question remained open for those who care to think, even if little and for just a while.
Then what followed was shocking, disturbing and irritating for those who know the ‘other side’ of the story. Kashmiris. A tragedy, anywhere, everywhere. A Kashmiri guy, who has studied outside the Valley from sixth class, at least, and now doing his business in Delhi only, spoke. The view was that Kashmiris are completely responsible for their miseries. The militants were all supported from outside. All were interested in moneymaking. (Later it turned out that somebody had taken money from his father at gunpoint so he had been nursing a grudge against the militant movement. Granted to an extent. But aren’t there black sheep everywhere around us? Is it a reason enough to malign the whole movement? No. Not at all. It’s myopic.)
So, again Sanjay presented the arguments. “The average life of a militant in J&K, who has taken up arms against the Indian state, is not more than one or one and a half years. Picking up the gun in the Valley is like signing one’s death warrant. The army presence is massive and overwhelming. To be a militant in Iraq is easier than in Kashmir. For less than a thousand (as claimed by the Indian govt.) at present there are at least seven lakh armed forces. Even then if you think that moneymaking is the sole objective of all fighters, you need to correct your understanding. Why do you think those people come out in such large numbers on the funerals of martyrs? Women wailing and beating their chests. People shouting slogans.”
“Couldn’t it be due to the fear factor?” asked a newly appointed teacher.
“Very possible that people come out due to the threat of militants. But how can you make them feign emotions? How can you make women cry by force? Passion cannot be generated artificially. People can’t be coerced into it. It’s so only when those killed are martyrs of just cause for the population.”
Questions, counter questions, answers. All continued for a while. Some very important issues were raised and discussed. The control of army over the people’s lives in the villages of Kashmir. The majority of Kashmiri people reside therein and it’s the villages of Kashmir where you can see the raw emotions against the occupation. Humiliation, torture, gazes. The interference in the village affairs is too much to bear. Peoples’ movement both to and from the villages is closely watched.
Hulk sits on the chest of the poor guy halting his breath, choking, suffocating him. Former India, latter Kashmir. That was the analogy given in response to a question on the future and alternatives provided by the call of Independent Kashmir. Azadi. You make normal life an unaffordable luxury for an entire nation unleashing a reign of state terror, torture and murder. And then you question the pros and cons of the movement and expect it to be hundred percent progressive, modern, non-violent and feminist. Plus you are the sole judge to give a decision after deciding what those terms mean and the compatibility of contesting replies to those definitions. Asking too much. Ain’t it?
Discussion over, the Speaker-Director and the audience both were thanked for coming. People who watched the film left. Thinking, pondering. Most disturbed, uncomfortable. Truth does disturb. More so, when it is unpleasant and related to you somehow.
For those who haven’t yet seen the film, some genuine advice. Must-Watch-it. It’s great.