Lamhaa is just a film, not a solution
FROM DHOLAKA – WITH LOVE
RAHUL DHOLAKIA SUMS UP HIS EXPERIENCES AS FILM-MAKER ON HIS RECENT RELEASE LAMHAA
I thank the people of Kashmir for extending their hospitality to my crew and me. Without their support, Lamhaa would never have been made.
Lamhaa was an extremely difficult film to make because Kashmir is a complex subject. My intention of making this film was to show the plight of Kashmiri people as of today. I did not intend finding or offering any solution to the problem because I am not qualified to do that, but I certainly would like to bring the issues and problems of Kashmiris to the homes of people of India.
A whole generation has grown up with violence and gun culture because of the presence of the armed forces, security forces and of course militants. For them, the face of India is the armed forces. There is a lot of hate and mistrust that they carry for them and therefore with India as well. Over the years, what we have heard about Kashmir is also a one-sided story which comes from a particular viewpoint. We also have a whole generation that has grown up thinking Kashmiris are militants.. Now the biggest problem in communication is to break the ice. Kashmiris should feel that the Indian’s are at least attempting to understand their issues. And the Indians should feel that the Kashmiris are not all wrong. There is a human side to them. If I portray only one side of any issue, the other will hate me for it; but if I go half way on both sides, at least there will be some kind of dialogue. Lamhaa, has certainly made Indians aware about the struggles of the normal Kashmiri and there is a respect and sympathy for their struggle. In that way, I think I have achieved what I started to make, I have proved what I always said- that Lamhaa is a pro Kashmir film.
As a filmmaker who needs to get a film censored in India, one has to be very careful with what one shows and what one does. I have managed to clear that, thanks to people like Sharmila Tagore, because Lamhaa does point fingers in many directions. It would be unfair on my part to show a one-sided film. I cannot support militancy or violence, be it from a militant’s side or from the army side.
No Indian film has ever accused the armed forces of fake encounters or corruption. No Hindi film has said that Delhi has been manipulating election from 1947. No feature length film has shown the plight of half widows in any film on Kashmir. Which Indian film has slogans that say Indian dogs go back to the forces ? Name one film where an Indian passport has been ripped in defiance? Which film has even dared to say that elections in Kashmir are rigged? Which film challenges the armed forces in picking up innocents? In many ways than one, Lamhaa is a first.
I have tried to make a balanced film and I think everyone should be accountable. The forces, the politicians - everyone. It’s impossible to capture 60 years of struggle in two hours. It’s impossible to make a documentary on Kashmir with commercial actors. So one has to try and understand, that though this is a work of fiction, the pain and concern for Kashmiris come out loud and clear.
There may be some scenes/ incidents, which people do not agree with. But if you are expecting India bashing or Kashmir bashing; it’s unfair and would never have been censored.
Kashmiris live in a beautiful prison. Lamhaa is more about Kashmir of today and a moment of uncertainty, which exists in every Kashmiri’s life today. It is that moment when a simple homely boy can become a suicide bomber. It is that moment when a Lashkar bullet can shoot a soldier and there is a wafer thin line between a militant and a freedom fighter. My film Lamhaa is made up of many such tender moments faced by a normal Kashmiri. Lamhaa is more about today than the history of Kashmir. To make it engrossing and appealing to the larger audience, I have incorporated a fictional plot in Lamhaa.
When Mihir Desai, a lawyer, who is part of an NGO in Kashmir, saw the first copy of Lamhaa. He told me that it was a brilliant film, but be prepared to get criticized from everyone! ‘Every one?” I asked. Yes, he said, everyone: because Lamhaa can be interpreted many ways, and each viewer will see it from the perspective he would like to see the issue of Kashmir.
One week after the release, I am beginning to understand how true Mihir was. There have been different and varied interpretations of the film. The audience has been both vocal and emotional in their expression. While some have called it a propaganda film, others believe it to be an eye opener. Some have said it’s a non-jingoistic, realistic film on Kashmir, others have dismissed is as Bollywood masala trivializing the freedom struggle. While some have said it’s nothing compared to Parzania, many have thanked me for making such a brave, honest and hard-hitting film.
My objective in the film was not to make a documentary on Kashmir, but to take the problem of Kashmiris to the world outside. To a much larger audience. It’s a commercial film. I am very satisfied with audience response because every person who has seen the film has said, “we sympathize with the Kashmiris – they have been used and abused by everyone, including the Indian Government! How can anyone live in peace if you are surrounded by guns??”
So even though issues may look superficial to you, they are not. And you must understand, this film is not for Kashmiris to watch alone. Its for most of the world to watch who don’t know anything about Kashmir. To introduce, make them understand and appreciate the Kashmiri situation without confusing them, was very important.
I am glad that I have succeeded in communicating to the people of India that there are so many people missing in the valley, that every one is using Kashmiris for their own gain, that there is a presence of lakhs of soldiers who are constantly threatening the existence of Kashmiris.
Lamhaa will have its admiration and Lamhaa will have its criticism. People who go into the theater expecting a Parzania or some kind of solution to the problem will be disappointed. I have left the end open, defying Bollywood grammar, because I was very certain that I did not want any Indian solving the problem of Kashmir, just as in Parzania, I did not want a white man solving the Gujarat problem. Because I believe that no single man can solve the problem of Kashmir. How can one man solve the problem of Kashmir? So in the end the protagonist gets really frustrated with the way the system works. And a lot of it is to do with Indian Armed Forces. As far as my stand is concerned, I support the genuine democratic protests taken by Kashmiris, but I am against any form of violence - be it from Kashmir’s side or from the side of Indian Forces.
In my over two years of visiting the valley I had met and interviewed hundreds of people from all walks of life. I have gathered interesting anecdotes and alarming information from soldiers, ex militants, hardliners, liberals, students, freedom fighters. I am thankful to people of Kashmir. All those I met during my visit. I thank them for their support.
Rahul Dholakia is an Indian film director-producer-screenwriter, most known for his National Film Award winning film, Parzania (Heaven & Hell On Earth). Parzaina was based on a real life story of 10-year old Parsi boy, Azhar Mody, known as Parzaan, who disappeared during the February 28, 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre, which took place during communal riots in Gujarat in 2002, Parzania won him the National Film Award for 2006 as the best Director.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 27 Jul 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 27 Jul 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 28 Jul 2010 00:00:00 IST
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