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[blog flash] we are 100,000 visitor old

So here we go we are 100,000 visitors old some stats

Months and Years

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2007 2,441 10,285 3,106 1,520 1,701 4,601 5,419 3,134 2,341 1,622 1,608 37,778
2008 1,324 1,167 1,740 1,191 953 917 970 2,469 962 807 1,051 2,009 15,560
2009 1,218 917 907 841 731 995 990 2,492 855 858 897 896 12,597
2010 1,143 821 716 690 638 770 1,104 3,078 1,358 1,373 818 759 13,268
2011 1,155 1,214 1,138 865 714 548 815 2,417 853 883 952 1,242 12,796
2012 3,428 4,305 274 8,007

Average per Day

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Overall
2007 106 332 104 49 57 148 175 104 76 54 52 115
2008 43 40 56 40 31 31 31 80 32 26 35 65 43
2009 39 33 29 28 24 33 32 80 29 28 30 29 35
2010 37 29 23 23 21 26 36 99 45 44 27 24 36
2011 37 43 37 29 23 18 26 78 28 28 32 40 35
2012 111 148 44 121

Jashn in California: Berkeley, Stanford, San Jose

There will be a short series of screenings of Jashn-e-Azadi in the Bay Area in early March, so those who would like to catch up with the film, welcome!
March 4: Berkeley / 6 pm /  Association for India’s Development, Berkeley Chapter
March 5: Stanford University / 4.30 pm / Symposium: “Grounding Kashmir: Experience and Everyday Life on Both Sides of the Line of Control”
March 9: San Jose State University / 7 pm / Engineering Auditorium  (Weblink is awaited)

Looking at Kashmir, in Tehelka

While the English language newspapers and television channels have had some coverage of the recent events in Kashmir (of course, with all their biases intact) the valley continues to be strangely absent from the other language media. An interesting exception is a comment by the veteran Hindi journalist and writer Priyadarshan, which appeared in a recent issue of the tehelka hindi magazine. The piece is called Yahan sey Kashmir ko dekhiye – Look at Kashmir thus.

Since it refer’s to Jashn-e-Azadi, here’s an unauthorised translation of the opening paragraphs of Priyadarhan’s piece:

Watching the protests in Kashmir on television, making ones way through the arguments on whether they were sponsored or spontaneous, I remembered Sanjay Kak’s documentary film on Kashmir, Jashn-e-Azadi. There is plenty in that film – funerals that turn into processions for Azadi, and Independence day functions celebrated by the government institutions. In the middle there are the security forces too, distributing radios amongst ordinary people, trying to establish a relationship with them.

What struck me most in the film was how a procession or a funeral on the road in Kashmir suddenly electrifies the whole atmosphere. You then see people on the roads screaming out slogans, women weeping and beating their breasts, and young men with clenched teeth and raised fists, as if eager to escape from the very limits of the screen.

When there is a government program on the other hand, the air is heavy, the roads deserted, the chairs look empty and sad, and fearful people are seen clapping – as if the event had been forced upon the people.

Seen thus, if the stone-pelting and protests in Kashmir are sponsored and organized, then peace is even more sponsored

I found this last line particularly perceptive, and a useful way to understand the long months of ‘peace’ in Kashmir, which confuse many Indians about what is really going on in that place.

blogflash: screenings in the US / Dec 2008

This December there will be a short series of campus screenings in the US of two recent films by Sanjay Kak which address the varied legacies of Indian nationalism and Gandhian nonviolence:

Words on Water (2002) focuses on 20 years of non-violent struggle by the displaced farmers and tribals in the Narmada Valley, and on the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada Movement).

Jashn-e-Azadi (How We Celebrate Freedom, 2007) examines the violence of the last two decades in the struggle for azadi–freedom–in Kashmirs’ complex history with India.

Filmmaker Sanjay Kak will be present to answer questions at all screenings.


Dec 1 (Mon) : Boston MA / MIT : Words on Water
MIT South Asia Forum & Alliance for a Secular & Democratic South Asia [MIT Room 32-124, 6.30pm] [ Abha Sur <> ]

Dec 2 Tue : Boston MA / Harvard University : Jashn-e-Azadi
Harvard GSAS ALAAP – The South Asia Society & SAJ [Graduate Students Lounge, Lehman Hall, Dudley House, 6pm [ Garga Chatterjee <> ]

Dec 3 Wed : Boston MA / Tufts University : Jashn-e-Azadi
Fletcher School [Mugar 200, 5pm] [ Shahla Hussain <> ]

Dec 5 Fri : Ann Arbor MI / Univ of Michigan : Jashn-e-Azadi
CSAS [1636 SSWB, 3pm] [ Sreyashi Dey <> ]

Dec 7 Sun : Springfield IL / University of Illinois Springfield : Jashn-e-Azadi
[Brookens Auditorium, 1.30pm] [ Ritu Saksena CSAMES <> ]

Dec 8 Mon : Normal IL / Illinois State University : Jashn-e-Azadi
[110 Center for the Visual Arts, 1pm] : [ Ritu Saksena CSAMES <> ]

Dec 9 Tue : Urbana Champaign IL / University of Illinois Urbana Champaign : Jashn-e-Azadi
[Spurlock Museum, 3pm] [ Shefali Chandra <> ]

Dec 10 Wed : Greencastle IN / DePauw University : Jashn-e-Azadi
[Watson Forum, Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media, 4pm] [ Mona Bhan <> ]

Dec 11 Thu : San Francisco CA / California Institute of Integral Studies : Words on Water
[Rm 607, 6th Floor, 1453 Mission Street (btw. 10th and 11th) 4.30pm]  [ Pei Wu <> ]

Dec 12 Fri : Berkeley CA / University of California, Berkeley : Jashn-e-Azadi
CSAS [Evans Rm 0010, 3pm] [ Puneeta Kala <> ]

blogflash: Jashn-e-Azadi @ DOK.FEST Munich

This is to announce with some pleasure that the film will screen in the competition at the forthcoming DOK.FEST Munich, listed under its international title “How we celebrate freedom”.
There will be two screenings:
May 2 (Fri) 5 pm : Filmmuseum
May 5 (Mon) 5 pm : Vortragsaal der Bibliothek, Gasteig

For more information do check at the DOK.FEST website or with the Internationales Dokumentarfilmfestival München
c/o Filmmuseum, Sankt Jakobs Platz 1 80331 München

blog report – 21 days on the road (part 1)

Last week, Jashn-e-Azadi finished a hectic round of preview screenings in the US and Canada, so time to do a little reporting.
(For the record, that was a whirlwind tour: 21 days, 9 cities, 12 screenings…)

The Sep 18 start was on a day properly auspicious (sheets of rain in Minneapolis until half an hour before the screening) as Jashn-e-Azadi played at the Bell Museum, at the center of the sprawling campus of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Until recently, the Bell hosted an active film club, so it continues to have a proper projection ambience, big screen, excellent sound (even 35mm projectors!). Despite the rain we had a good turnout, more than 60 people, and the 7 pm start helped gather an interesting mix of students and faculty, as well as people from the wider South Asian ‘community’ in the area. That mix also helped to open out the Q&A session that followed, because the usual questions that Indian audiences will ask (about Pakistan’s support for the movement; about the consequences of self-determination in Kashmir) were mediated with more specific questions about the nature of what is happening in Kashmir’s present. (The Q&A ended well after 10 pm!) The films journey to Minneapolis was hosted by the College of Liberal Arts at UMN, and the discussion around it was carried over to the next afternoon, when a smaller group of graduate students and faculty met at the South Asian Seminar series, chaired by Ajay Skaria, eminent historian of South Asia, and we had a more detailed conversation around the film, the process that led to it, and its implications.

The impeccably modern facilities at the MacMillan Center at Yale University in New Haven was the venue for the Sep 20 screening of the film, for a group of about 35 students and faculty with an interest in South Asian history and politics. (And a smaller group who had joined us from the nearby Connecticut College as well) The Q&A was moderated by Mridu Rai, another excellent historian of South Asia (and particularly of Kashmir) , and we got off to a particularly lively start with an enthusiastic critic (who turned out to have driven 4 hours to share his views) launching into a diatribe against Jashn-e-Azadi, from a position that is both familiar and predictable to us, and by now probably even familiar to readers of this blog. (Summary: the film is partial, inaccurate, sympathetic to the wrong people, etc.) Since this was an educational institution, the critics had helpfully brought along xeroxed notes, which were generously distributed, containing pointers to the films flaws, as well as a ‘review’ of the film. I draw attention to this handy little package because the same text kept showing up all over North America. So even film criticism has become a networked business in these times… But as usually happens, the audience had an independent–and I dare say, different–reading of the film, and a more complex discussion followed, which flowed into a dinner reception, the event hosted by the South Asian Studies Council.

A pre-dawn flight from Hartford, in a tiny 12 seater plane, across the border and into Canada, had the advantage of an unforgettable view of sun-rise from the air. (Ink-black, blood-red, through to blue) Later that afternoon of Sep 21, the film was screened by the Center for the Study of Asias and the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto. Once again, well before the screening began, representatives of the same group of critics arrived, half-a-dozen very vociferous and somewhat aggressive gentlemen, with impeccably put together ‘press-kits’ with the same xeroxed pointers, and a bonus in the shape of a DVD of a film that they insisted be shown immediately before/after/during Jashn-e-Azadi. Since this was clearly not possible, they were very politely refused by the chair for the afternoon, Ashwini Tambe, who handled the unusual requests with infinite patience and tact, and transformed what they intended to be an acrimonious rough-house into a very civilized and productive session. Written questions were passed onto her, and eventually we managed to cover a lot of ground in the Q&A. And to be fair to the gentlemen who came with the intention of disliking the film, at least two of them were quietly appreciative of what the film was trying to do, and said so, however difficult it might seem to accept in the present. (Their other colleagues were happy to admit that they had no interest in what the film was saying, so seeing it–or not seeing it–made no difference to their existing critique of it.)

On Sep 22 an additional preview screening of the film was organised at Toronto’s Royal Cinema, under the banner of the South Asian Left & Democratic Alliance, for an audience of film-makers and film enthusiasts, activists from the Toronto political scene, and some students. Sanjay Toronto AliThe Royal, which is one of the venues for the Toronto Film festival, is now mostly used as a re-recording theatre for film, so has the most astonishing sound system and projection. (Seeing the film projected on that huge screen was a sensation that I was totally unprepared for: working as we do on modest desk-top systems, calibrating image and sound on pro-sumer systems, you always fear that the digital video output will not bear the scrutiny of the “big cinema” experience. That day at the Royal was vindication that the Sony PD170 + Final Cut Pro combination, with lashings of patient care from camera-persons, editors and sound designers, can give you a film that certainly looks and sounds as good as the best…) The Toronto film-maker, Ali Kazimi, who both Canada and India claim to be one of their own, had generously put together the screening, and moderated what turned into a really thoughtful Q&A, which ended only when it was time for us to vacate the Royal. (For a regular screening of Michael Moore’s Sicko!) I carry away the memory of a Senegalese Canadian activists’ comment: “I see the film as deeply hopeful”, he said during the Q&A, a response that one always hoped someone would have. To struggle, and resist, is to have hope…

On Sep 23 Jashn-e-Azadi moved to Bostons’ MIT, screening at the stunningly conceived Frank Gehry building in the heart of the campus. Hosted by old friends AID (Association for India’s Development) and Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, the Sunday afternoon screening attracted a diverse audience: the generalised ‘South Asian’ coming across as Indian, Pakistani, Kashmiri, American. But the active curiosity–and the general sense of unease–created by the arguments of the film led to an excellent Q&A which lasted for more than an hour. The best reaction of all was that several people wanted copies of the film, so that they could pass the film on to others, and organise more screenings. The familiar one page Critical Guide to Jashn-e-Azadi surfaced here too, distributed by two gentlemen whose question in the Q&A (about ‘factual errors’ in the films titles) stems from a misreading that has happened from the first screenings of the film in March 2007.

The screenings of the first week ended on Sep 25 when the New School for Social Research, in New York hosted a screening in downtown Manhattan. Once again, the diverse nature of New York provided an eclectic audience, and the Q&A that followed reflected these multiple perspectives. For me, there was the added pleasure that the discussion was moderated by Faisal Devji, a young historian whose recent work (distilled in his very thoughtful book, Landscapes of the Jihad) has much stimulated my thinking on these areas. Not unexpectedly, people tend to view films, particularly those which have an open-ended form (and don’t necessarily drag you to the finishing line of conclusions!) like a Rorschach test: they see in them what they want to imagine… There was a comment, for example, that the film only focuses on a “harsh Sunni Islam”, and ignores Kashmirs tradition of “more gentle Shia, Sufi practices”. Not only is this a flawed reading of the images in the film (the Sufi shrines appear frequently in the film; and how does one differentiate between Shia and Sunni aspects of the movement in Kashmir?) it is also a fundamentally incorrect reading of Islam in Kashmir. My admittedly non-specialist correction to this notion–that the Sufi should not necessarily be seen as non-Islamic or even anti-Islamic–was helped immeasurably by the presence of Faisal Devji.

The next day, Sep 26, Jashn-e-Azadi screened at Vassar College in Upstate New York, an old and highly regarded liberal arts college, where a totally unexpected audience of almost a hundred under-graduates walked in for a late evening screening of the film. Unexpected, because our screenings on north American campuses usually tended to draw in a small and focused bunch of graduate students (usually with an interest in South Asia) and of course the South Asians on campus: here we had a totally diverse set of undergraduate students, from backgrounds as varied as Anthropology, Literature, Political Science, and so on, with no real substantial investment in Kashmir, or the issues it raises… And much to my surprise, most of them stayed till the end of our rather long film, and many stayed on for the discussion. The event had been arranged by Amitava Kumar, writer and novelist, and Professor of English at Vassar, and he moderated the excellent Q&A that followed.

[ part 2 follows ]

[ blog correction! ]

An alert Mumbaikar has pointed out that the screenings at Vikalp @ Bhupesh Gupta Bhawan (in Prabhadevi) are always on a Friday. So our posting about that screening date was in error: it will be on July 27, Friday / 6.30 pm sharp. That’s confirmed as correct. Apologies for that.

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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