Docu-films from Kashmir evoke memory of silent era


By Jivraj Burman

Mumbai, Feb 10 (IANS) The unique feature of a package of movies from Jammu and Kashmir shown at the ongoing Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2008 is that it evokes memories of the silent era.

None of the short movies or documentaries has any dialogue or commentary accompanying them. The visuals make up for the words that are not there.

The movies have been so made that their content can be understood through visual narratives without dialogues or commentaries to enable them to reach the widest possible audience across all the social strata.

Though the package has only seven movies, freshness marks each one of them. The directors have tried to present the state's variegated hues of culture and arts from different perspectives.

"While selecting films for the Kashmiri package, we tried to bring out hidden talent from the state," Mohi-ud-Din Mirza, curator and presenter of the package, told IANS.

According to Mirza, filmmakers in the state have not been able to make documentaries for want of finance and infrastructure.

He criticised the Jammu and Kashmir government for not reviving the Kashmiri film industry, which received a setback because of unabated trouble in the border state.

Mirza said the exodus of local talent seeking greener pastures elsewhere has been continuing, as attempts had not been made to rebuild filmmaking infrastructure in the state.

"Unless the state government formulates a film policy to promote Kashmiri films and creates a separate filmmaking fund, it will be difficult to retrieve the industry from its present deplorable state," said well-known Kashmiri filmmaker Mushtaq A. Bala.

The opening movie of the package was a 30-minute documentary titled "Pather Chujaeri" based on a folk theatre form Bhand Pather of Kashmir.

Through the lives of the Bhands, director Pankaj Rishi Kumar explores the message of their art. The documentary satirically and artistically shows how the writ of the subversive elements reigns supreme in the Kashmir valley at present.

"Bal Marayo" is a 22-minute short fiction directed by Mirza. It subtly depicts the common family problems in Kashmiri homes, irrespective of religion.

The celebrated director Mani Kaul's "Kashmir Before My Eyes", a 30-minute documentary of his understanding of Kashmir, has also been included in the package.

"Budshah", directed by Mushtaq A. Bala, is a 20-minute documentary fiction on Sultan Zain-Ul-Aabidin Budshah (nee Shah Rukh Shah), who ruled Kashmir during 1420-70.

"Spring Comes To Kashmir," a 12-minute short film directed by Ravi Prakash, captures the arrival of flowering season in the valley of Kashmir while a 30-minute documentary, "Wilderness Calling," directed by Syed Fayaz, gives an account of India's wildlife and eco-systems with a message of conservation.