Seems like when it comes to Kashmir, Indian Censor Board has only one answer –NO. The latest Kashmir centric film to fall prey to Censor Board objections is Harud- (Autumn ) directed by Aamir Bashir, which has already been world premiered at Toronto, Canada. Aamir Bashir, the brain behind Harud tweeted last night, “Harud refused censor certificate. Round 2 with Revisionary Committee to follow. Wish us luck!”
Censorship noise could be heard lately, regarding documentary films like Sanjay Kak directed Jashn-e-Azadi and Ashwin Kumar directed Inshallah Kashmir.
Noteworthy to mention, all these films have been able to garner good amount of criticism as well as accolade for being able to depict the human rights violations in the Kashmir during the turmoil period, which was not the case with feature and documentary films made by Indian filmmakers earlier.
Despite, Indian censor board deciding to refuse a certificate to these films, the filmmakers went ahead with the screening of their films either online, or at various events. The commonality among these films seem to be the situation prevailing in the valley during the violent 90s, especially from people’s point of view. The anti India sentiment pervading in these films, has been viewed by many as the reason which the Censor Board apparently thinks might create a discord.
These films, as also described by their makers are especially meant for audiences outside Kashmir, portraying a life lived under the shadow of gun. On January 26, when Oscar nominated film director Ashwin Kumar released his film, Inshallah Kashmir online for 24 hours, it received more than 50,000 views. Ashwin decided to screen the film online, after his past experience of censor board certificate denial for his two films, including one on Kashmir.
Not only the Kashmiris, but even the non-natives described this film as an extraordinary make, letting them know about the series of incidents like Dardpora killings, custodial tortures and Kunan Poshpora mass rapes during turbulent years in Kashmir.
“Is this true? Is this what happens in Kashmir? I never knew about all this. I depended on my dose of Bollywood films and news to know about Kashmir. However, this film has really broadened my vision on Kashmir. The violence in Kashmir during 1990s was not totally uncalled for. People have been subject to a lot of humiliation and torture there. No national sentiment can surpass that,” expressed Vikram Vaidyanath, a film buff from Chennai on Twitter.
Recently, the Indian and international think-tanks were all for leading Kashmir based Indian documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak, when his film, Jashn-e-Azazdi was not allowed to screen during the UGC aided Kashmir seminar in Symbiosis College, Pune. Apparently, a right wing student activist group, ABVP allegedly pressurised the college authorities and local Police to stop the film screening or face consequences. This eventually, led to cancellation of seminar itself and raised questions over any out of the box representation of Kashmir issue by Indian filmmakers.
“What do these censorship stories tell us? Kashmir is too sensitive an issue for some Indians to deal with. Why are they scared to show to the fellow Indians the other side of the Kashmir story? Did any of the moderate or extremist groups in Kashmir protest or object to the Bollywood typifying Kashmiris as loyal Indians? And now if some internationally renowned documentary film makers are taking a brave step at portraying the real picture of Kashmir, they should not be discouraged. That is certainly not what a democracy stands for,” asserted Muhammad Nayeem, an ambitious Kashmiri film studies student at Kashmir University.
Meanwhile, in the wake of some fresh Censor Nos and ban on Kashmir based films, the filmmakers have come out in support of each other criticising the very role of Censor Board.
Ashwin Kumar had earlier said online that the Indian censor board is a board of film certification. It should restrain itself to that role rather than extend its definition to being a moral guardian, arbitrator or conscience of the nation. It is every citizen’s right to express, particularly highlight aspects of our democracy, governance and society in a free and open manner
He even tweeted in support of Harud saying that, “I have seen Harud, story of a boy growing up in today’s Kashmir nothing objectionable about it – censor board idiocy in full display.”
In the wake of fresh bout of controversies, debates over these films, a tweet like this might be a good way out, “Watch Jashn-e-Azadi, watch Inshallah Kashmir, use your own brains, draw your own conclusions.”
First published in Kashmir Times.