(translation from the Urdu)
Arshid Ahmed / Kashmir Uzma / April 1, 2007
“Jashn-e-Azadi” in Kashmir
Film by son of the soil film-maker Sanjay Kak screened at Tagore Hall
Kashmiri film director Sanjay Kak’s new documentary film Jashn-e-Azadi was screened at Srinagar’s Tagore Hall this weekend. The film is about the ongoing rebellion in Kashmir. The 2 hour 18 minute long film looks at the impact of the last six decades on Kashmiri society, by particularly focusing on 1990 onwards, and capturing these twenty years on film.
The starting point of the film is the Indian Independence day celebration on August 15th at Srinagar’s historic Lal Chowk, where a handful of BSF personnel are shown singing the Indian National Anthem. In this scene, if there are any people not in uniform, then they are press photographers and TV journalists. What is ordinarily a Lal Chowk bustling with the activity of people, is on this day eerily silent.
In another scene, in the midst of Srinagar’s Martyr’s Graveyard, an elderly man is shown looking for his son’s grave. Having witnessed his son’s funeral, this unfortunate father’s tearful conversation makes this film extremely emotional. Later, in the border town of Kupwara, a young civilian says “my work is to dig graves, sometimes it’s a militant, and sometimes an innocent civilian”.
Through his film Sanjay Kak conveys the impact of the rebellion of the last two decades. Speaking to Kashmir Uzma Sanjay said: “The story of Kashmir is yet to be told. My film is only the first stage of this immense story”. The film depicts the oppression and brutalisation by the Security forces, and the resulting agonies of the people are captured in the film: it shows many families who have seen their kith and kin being killed before their eyes by Security personnel. It also shows unidentified bodies (without even a shroud to cover them). On the other hand, he has also tried to show the projects run by the security forces – Operation Goodwill, Sadhbhavna and Muskaan.
In Jashn-e-Azadi the psychological impact on Kashmiris of the ongoing rebellion has been very forcefully brought out. And it demonstrates thow in the last 17 years the continous pressure has resulted in a large number of people becoming victims of psychological ailments. And this figure is continously rising. At different points, speeches of many Army men and pro-freedom leaders have also been given space.
A large crowd was present to watch the film, which included a wide cross-section of opinions. Many of the viewers engaged in high pitched slogans in favour of freedom, Pakistan, and militants. And so declared that it was the first completely independent film on Kashmir, one which truly reflects the state of affairs in Kashmir. At the end of the screening, many prominent citizens expressed their gratitude to Sanjay Kak for the film. On the other hand, separatist leader Shakeel Ahmed Bakshi presented his own shawl to Sanjay Kak as a token of his appreciation.