Ashvin Kumar’s political statement on the plight of people of Kashmir wrenches, charms, and hits hard- all at the same time
Everyone thinks they know Kashmir- this tagline of the film says a lot. Amid several news stories that seem unbelievable at times, No Fathers In Kashmir transports you to the region and places you around the people there. Its not a regular cinematic experience of Kashmir’s politics where you get glances of terrorism and militancy and debris of houses along with back stories of communally fragmented narratives. Here you are made to plunge deep in real waters.
Noor (Zara Webb), a teenage girl from London visits Kashmir with her mother only to discover the real reason why her father went missing. A local Kashmiri boy Majid (Shivam Raina) who empathises with her owing to his own similar encounters, helps her unravel more layers. But their lives in doing so turn upside down.
Written by Ashvin Kumar himself, the story itself deserves a standing ovation. Taking into account the socio-political scenario in Kashmir prevalent since ages, Kumar pens an uncompromisingly honest tale on what it means to lead lives in the turbulent territories of Kashmir, more so for the kids and women. In times when people are ‘picked up’ by Indian Army with no traces found whatsoever, how things actually play is what the film shows.
Right from the title of the film that summaries the entire story line, to the times when the violence and ruthlessness is shown, the film captures the brutal reality of the Kashmir valley wonderfully. If the story commands respect, the screenplay should be lauded for the power it contains.
While the film revolves around harshness, it still has the ability to make you smile. Sweet moments involving Majid and Noor delight you. Its a beautiful canvas painted very intelligently by Kumar where innocence moves hand in hand with the atrocities meted out to souls.
The pace is inherently slow and the film strictly asks you to get into a zone. Yes, some prior information about Kashmir’s politics is an added advantage. However, the detailed writing gives you ample scope to actually get into the deeper layers. Also, the film also seems to stretch during the later part of first half and it is clearly observed that fast pace of drama could have made more impact.
Strong political commentary, emotions overpowering the struggling times, and a sense of uncertainty around one’s life- have been portrayed with utmost maturity. What binds the film together is the fact that despite all the roadblocks, its a film about hope and positivity.
Zara Webb is very good in the role of a girl from Britain. Her vulnerabilities are what you associate yourself the most with. She gives you the suffocated feel about the character of Noor.
Shivam Raina is mind-blowing. Mellow, bright, outspoken, funny, smart, sweet- he’s everything. A perfect cast actor for such a strong role.
Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Soni Razdan say it mostly with their eyes. And given the incredible actors they are, they do it with unmatched finesse.
Ashvin Kumar in the role of a local radical leader is extraordinary evoking the required feeling for the character.
Music is suited perfectly for the album. While the songs add to the flavor, the gripping background score majorly consisting of local Kashmiri flavor folk music stays with you. The score rightly helps to take the narrative forward.
Apart from some shaky camera in some parts, cinematography by Jean Marc Selva and Jean Marie Delorme is spectacular. Capturing not only the locations in a scenic way, but also the humanity in its very essence does the story telling effectively. Production design is real and adds perspective to the plot.
Editing by Ashvin Kumar, Thomas Goldser and Abhro Banerjee is unapologetic ally thumping. It brings out the true crux of the film.
The film by Oscar nominated Ashvin Kumar works at many levels. On one hand you have reality right in your face. And on the other, sweet innocent people talking about hope. Its an important film to actually come out. In fact, this one is one of the best pieces of art to educate you about the times and people in Kashmir. Make sure you access this one despite its limited reach.