Showkat A Motta | Greater Kashmir, Srinagar | March 31, 2007:

‘Domination does not mean victory’
Sanjay Kak’s Jashn-e-Azadi screened in Srinagar

Sanjay Kak in his documentary film Jash-n-Azadi (How we celebrate freedom) tells Kashmiris their own truth, that is, they may be dominated but they’re not defeated, the domination does not mean victory and that the folkloric thirst for Azadi is so firmly imprinted in their genes that fight Azadi has become an instinctive need for them.

Hence, at Srinagar’s Tagore Hall where the film was screened Saturday, when the audience booed at the image of troops celebrating India’s Independence Day on empty streets of Lal Chowk it was not the cathartic release of anger, but an expression of gratitude that for the first time “the truth about India’s untenable occupation discourse” has been said fearlessly, and said in its most undiluted form.

Kak, a Delhi-based Kashmiri Pandit, was instantly repaid with flowery words of gratitude and clapping. A veteran pro-freedom leader gifted away his black embroidered shawl which he called as his “resistance shawl” to Kak. Another resistance leader found in this bold narrative a lesson for Kashmiris journalists working for “Indian media”: he wanted them to emulate Kak in telling the truth.

The atmosphere at the jam-packed Tagore Hall was so surcharged that many in the audience synced their slogans with the slogans of the people shown in the film carrying the body of a militant killed by the troops.

Kak says his aim in making the film was to disturb the “Indian audience” for whom the film is essentially meant. According to him, many “sensitive Indians” lost their sleep for many days after watching the film, probably because they had never been told “the unpalatable truth about Indian control of Kashmir.”

Barbed wires, troops and their vehicles as massive as their presence, whizzing past the depressed people form the leitmotif of the film, but that would be stating the obvious.

So what makes the Jash-n-Azadi the boldest political statement in the contemporary Kashmiri discourse? The film is portrayal of the Azadi theme that leads into history’s back chambers and picks up one unalterable fact: Kashmiris have resisted subjugation for centuries even though in their misery they might sometimes ridicule their own efforts of resistance.

The armed resistance of the past 18 years, however is the focus of the documentary. But showing a band of Bhands (folk theatre artiest) to have incorporated theme of resistance in a village show, and performing it for centuries while shuttling between one oppressor to another, is no less than a homage to the spirit of Kashmiris.

The apparent contradictions in the people’s quest for Azadi, for example, elections, their own people (read Ikhwanis) unleashed as collaborators on them, plight of the Kashmiri Pandits, or, a man struggling to locate the grave of his son in Srinagar’s Martyrs Graveyard, vanish in the film’s grand narrative.

The director’s obsession with the theme of Azadi might have narrowed his focus and he has deliberately left out many things in the film, but it has no bearing on the main theme of the film.
The ultimate reality that people want Azadi emerges untouched among these contradictions.

Thus a ‘Goodwill Operation’ which is a convincing piece of propaganda for an Indian news channel, in Jash-n-Azadi becomes what it is: a hugely ludicrous exercise,” said an excited youth, Abdul Mateen Bhat after watching the film.

With his film Sanjay Kak has complemented Arundhati Roy’s—she was among the Tagore Hall audience—biting prose on Kashmir. Like Roy’s prose the Jash-n-Azadi is a rarity, hence invaluable.


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
jashneazadifilmATgmail.com

links

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Stone in my hand

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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

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previews

Festival screenings

Thiruvananthapuram
May 26, 2008 / International Video Festival of Kerala
Munich
Apr 28, 2008 / Dok.Fest
Amsterdam
Feb 10, 2008 / Himalaya Film Festival
Amsterdam
Nov 28, 2007 / International Documentary Festival
Kathmandu
Oct 12, 2007 / Film South Asia
Delhi
July 22, 2007 / Osian’s Cinefan film festival

Previous Previews

London
7 Dec 2007 / School of Oriental & African Studies & Sacred Media Cow
Leeds
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
Austin
Oct 2, 2007 / University of Texas
Philadelphia
Sep 28, 2007 / Temple University
Philadelphia
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
Boston
Sep 23, 2007 @ MIT
Toronto
Sep 22, 2007 / SALDA
Toronto
Sep 21, 2007 / University of Toronto
New Haven
Sep 20, 2007 / Yale University
Minneapolis
Sep 18, 2007 / University of Minnesota

Hyderabad
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...]]

Bangalore
July 14, 2007 / Institute of Agrl. Technologies, Queens Road
Bangalore
July 13, 2007 / Centre for Film & Drama, Millers Road
Nashik
June 13, 2007, Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar Hall
Pune
June 12, 2007, National Film Archive of India Auditorium
Guwahati
May 29, 2007, Blue Moon Hotel
Shillong
May 26, 2007, Assam Club, Laban
Patna
May 12, 2007, Hindi Bhavan Hall
Srinagar
March 31, 2007, Tagore Hall
New Delhi
March 23, 2007, Sarai-CSDS
New Delhi
March 13, 2007, India Habitat Center

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