blogflash: screening report in the “Rising Kashmir”

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

Question time:
“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.


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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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