Jashn-e-Azadi a mirror of insurgency-ravaged J&K
Sanjay Kak’s documentary film Jashn-e-Azadi depicts the plight and agony of the people of Kashmir who are afflicted with militarisation. The film was shown at Assam Club, Laban on Saturday.
The following is an excerpt from the interview with the Director:
Why do you want to screen this film here in Shillong?
You know the film has just been finished a couple of months ago. And what we are trying to do is to actually as widely as possible screen all over the country trying to do these small previews because, with the independent documentary there isn’t like a readymade publicity apparatus. We don’t have large baggage of promoters or publicist.
How do you inform people about the existence of a film like th
So what we are doing is screenings like this, a couple of previews in Delhi, then we did it in Srinagar, Patna, Shillong. This will carry on for the next few months. And I think that particularly in the Northeast, it is important to create a space for discussion on political issues but with a kind of space that a documentary film can create. By showing the film, it should not necessarily have to be a film about Northeast or about Meghalaya, so it can be from anywhere in the country. It creates a space and then that kind of discussion can happen.
Besides Shillong where else do you plan to screen the film?
We are planning to do a screening in Guwahati. Eventually, I would like to do a screening in Manipur, because in some sense, the issues that the people in Kashmir have to deal with are not in a broad sense dissimilar with what people here have experienced. So you see I don’t think it is necessary for me to show it everywhere. I think what Tarun and I are trying to do is just do three significant screenings.
What about your views on conflict in Northeast and J&K?
I don’t think I know enough about the conflict in NE to be able to make a comparison but, I think that the fundamental issues are always different. But there are some fundamental issues that remain the same. The question is what has been the capacity of India as a country to cope with people who have fundamental disagreements with the way it is constituted?
I do not believe that all violence is essentially the same. Every issue is infact different. And it does not help to club these two together. Very often people try to do these simplifications in one film about violence in Manipur and Kashmir. It does not make sense to me. Even if we say Kashmir, what exactly do we mean? If we talk of Kashmir or any of the conflict region or Nagaland. How complex are they and we all know that. It does not help to over simplify these. But the magic of documentary films is if it is done with intelligence and understanding, then it will have resonance for people in Papua and New Gunea also. It does not have to be within the borders of India. So that’s what one is hoping for. Why people go and see this film is because this is a film about fundamental things.
What is target audience?
When you make a film, there are multiple audiences in your head. As far as I’m concerned, when I make a film, I first think of where the film has to be shot. It does not mean that it is meant for people there. For instance, if I make a film on Narmada valley, I’m not making it for them. It is very important for me, how will they react to this, how will they react to the next part.
Having said that, fundamentally it is aimed at the Indian audience. But beyond that I am sure that this will have an international audience. When you see a film, an audience from Kashmir, will draw a whole lot from this, which an audience in Shillong or Delhi may not get. An audience abroad will get something else from it. . At the end of the day you make your film with yourself as the audience.
How much time was taken to complete the film?
It took us 5-6 months to complete shooting for the film. Kashmir is home for me. Same time was taken for editing it in Delhi. Altogether it took us two and half years to complete everything and the duration of the edited version is 2hrs 18mins.
What are the stories highlighted?
It is not the kind of documentary that sticks to one character. It tells the story through one individual / family or a girl. What I want to suggest in picking those stories is that this is a film that tells its story through multiplicity of spaces. Our choice of those stories is to suggest that this is not a film of one character, one family or institution. It just meanders through the Kashmir of the present. Looking through the things which you can hold on to and which you can make meaningful.
What do you hope to achieve through this?
Hope to make a difference in some way. I definitely do believe that what we do in our work can transform people’s way of thinking. What I have experienced is that when you make a film, watching it will change people’s way of thinking. That’s what I know it can do and that’s what excites me.
What about the motivation?
I don’t think ideas pop up suddenly, they are a culmination of a process and therefore in that process there can be many elements. In some way I’m a Kashmiri, I should have been thinking about a film in Kashmir for a long time.
It is my own politics of what’s going on in India being really disturbed and angered by it and wanting to make some kind of intervention, that prompted me to do this. And also my dismay and distrust by the way and direction the media is giving, which totally does not tell you about what is going on about so many things.
(Interviewed by Eva Marbaniang)