Azera Rehman | India Abroad News Service | Thursday, March 15, 2007

These stories have been told before. Yet Sanjay Kak’s film on Jammu and Kashmir, “Jashn-e-Azadi”, documenting an innocent population trapped between the terrorist’s gun and the army’s, one gets gooseflesh and a sting in the eye.

The film, shot from 2004-06 and literally meaning “How we celebrate freedom”, begins with a scene of India’s Independence Day celebration at Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar in August 2005.

As the national flag is unfurled ritually, a handful of soldiers sing the national anthem while another handful guards them. The only other non-uniformed people present are the media. The rest of the place is barren and quiet.

The film then cuts to the next shot where the camera follows an old man, a father, in the martyr’s graveyard on Eid, looking for his son’s grave. “There are so many graves here, sometimes it’s difficult to figure out which one is my son’s,” he says.

Probably because his voice doesn’t betray any tremor or because he says it so matter-of-factly, this scene hits the audience hard.

Another young man in the Kupwara district of north Kashmir says: “My job is to bury the unclaimed bodies, it could be of a civilian or a terrorist.

“When I had started 10 years back, I was just 15 and used to be scared and shocked to see the mutilated bodies each day. But now…it’s as if my heart has turned into stone,” he says quietly.

The camera goes through the twists and turns of lanes and catches a glimpse of the satirical farce created by Bhand folk performers in a village courtyard which is cheered by the crowd and then shows the outpatient wards of the psychiatric hospital of Srinagar where people pour out their fears to the visiting doctor.

“This is just one story of Kashmir, it definitely is not ‘the’ story. ‘The’ story of Kashmir has not even begun to be told, not by the media, not by anyone else,” said Kak.

With beautiful yet sad couplets written by Kashmiri poets interspersed with shots of smiling tourists who call Kashmir “a paradise on earth” and grieving families, the 138-minute film sets the audience thinking. Perhaps, about what India’s 60th year of independence really means to the people of Kashmir.


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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