Vidhi Upadhyay | Press Trust of India, New Delhi | March 22, 2007

How does one feel celebrating Independence day surrounded by army personnel, fears of a attack weighing heavily on one’s mind?

“Jashn e Azadi- How we celebrate freedom”, a 138 minute documentary by Sanjay Kak opens with a scene of a typical Independence day celebration in Srinagar.

Army men gather at Lal Chowk, armed men guard them and among spectators are again military personnel and a few journalists. Next scene shows a graveyard where a father is trying to locate his son’s grave. Without any sign of emotion crossing his face and voice, he says, “It’s been so many years now, how does one remember.”

“I want to tell the world that what is life like when there are 7,00,000 soldiers around you, what one feels like when one constantly lives in a war zone, may be one of the most militarized war zones in the entire world”, says Sanjay.

A young man who has got accustomed to burying bodies in the last ten years of his life, a woman in a hospital who suffers from psychological disorders as she imagines seeing blood, and a tourism industry trying hard to come as a green leaf in the otherwise paradise-turned-paralyzed State. Through these and many more scenes of grief, death, blood and a tourism sector trying to sustain under the protection of army, the director wants to convey a point.

Kak’s documentary, which he had been making since 2003, was screened in the capital recently.

The sensitive nature of the issue was visible when some members of the audience, during the post-screening discussion said they were not happy with the film, it doesn’t show what the Kashmiri migrants, mainly pandits, suffered during all these years. To some, it came as a one sided portrayal of the situation.

Rashneek Kher, a Kashmiri pandit said, “The movie was very biased, I agree to the pain and suffering of Kashmiris living there, but that is no reason, how can you show just one side of the picture?

However Kak, himself a Kashmiri pandit, is quick to respond to the accusation. “Kashmiri pandits are not there in my film because they are not there in Kashmir, I didn’t want to drag them out of the refugee camps into my film. In fact the film is about how the word freedom has many meanings”.

Twice in the documentary the director uses the 12th century historian, Kalhan’s quote, “Kashmir can be conquered by spiritual merit but never by the force of soldiers”.

As if suggesting the need for a reconditioned perspective, there is a scene towards the end of the film where a motivation expert is addressing students, army men, and other people in Srinagar and is talking about change.

“People feel they resist changes, in actual they don’t, they resist losses due to changes, or they resist changes due to their past conditionings”, says the motivation expert Davis.


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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