Bollywood’s obsession with Kashmir

Bollywood’s obsession with Kashmir is well-known, and the state has served as a backdrop for several films both visually and as a part of the story line.

Today, however, releasing a film pertaining to Kashmir has become a difficult task.

A recent example is Ashvin Kumar’s No Fathers in Kashmir which was delayed by the CBFC for over nine months. The film will finally release on 5 April.

Here are some Bollywood films set in Kashmir that you should catch before the film No Fathers in Kashmir hits theatres.

1. ‘Hamid’

A still from <i>Hamid</i>.
A still from Hamid.

Hamid smartly chooses to not take sides, and offers explanation for both the army, and the civilian population going astray. The story is about an eight year-old Hamid who learns that 786 is God’s number and decides to try and reach out to God, by dialing this number. He wants to talk to his father who according to his mother has gone to Allah. One fine day the phone call is answered by an Army officer, and their conversations shatter each others’ impressions of Kashmir. The film addresses ‘Azaadi’, and how different it is from person to person.

2. ‘Haider’

Shahid Kapoor and Tabu gave stellar performances in<i> Haider</i>.
Shahid Kapoor and Tabu gave stellar performances in Haider.

Vishal Bharadwaj’s adaptation of Hamlet is a potent combination of politics and the beautiful landscape of Kashmir. Haider, a young student and poet, returns to Kashmir to seek answers about his father’s disappearance and ends up being pulled into the politics of the state. The film boasts of superlative performances by Shahid Kapoor, Tabu and Kay Kay Menon.

3. ‘LOC Kargil’

The poster of <i>LOC Kargil</i>.
The poster of LOC Kargil.

JP Dutta’s magnum opus was shot extensively in Leh and Ladakh. The film had an ensemble cast of major stars like Sanjay Dutt, Abhishek Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukerji. In true Dutta style there was the chest-thumping nationalist spirit that you have come to associate his films with. It was criticised for its excessive length but had an extremely successful soundtrack.

The team behind <i>LOC Kargil</i>.
The team behind LOC Kargil.

4. ‘Mission Kashmir’

Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta in <i>Mission Kashmir</i>.
Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta in Mission Kashmir.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s film follows the life of a young boy Altaaf, played by Hrithik Roshan after, his family is accidentally killed by police officers. He is adopted by the police chief who is responsible for this, and when Altaaf finds out, he seeks revenge and becomes a separatist. This plot combined with the beautiful visuals of Kashmir, made the film a great watch. Chopra himself hails from Kashmir and was able to add nuances from his life to the story.

5. ‘Yahaan’

<i>Yahaan</i> was Shoojit Sircar’s debut and starred Minissha Lamba and Jimmy Shergill.
Yahaan was Shoojit Sircar’s debut and starred Minissha Lamba and Jimmy Shergill.

Shoojit Sircar’s penchant for shooting at real locations can be seen right at the start of his career with Yahaan. His debut film was praised for its adept handling of the Kashmir Valley’s scenic beauty but was a love story at its core. The film starred Jimmy Shergill and Minissha Lamba, and flopped when it released but is now remembered for its sensitivity towards Kashmir.

6. ‘Roja’

Actors Madhoo and Arvind Swamy in a still from<i> Roja</i>.
Actors Madhoo and Arvind Swamy in a still from Roja.

The first in Mani Ratnam’s trilogy of political thrillers, Roja depicted the journey of a couple Rishi and Roja whose lives are torn apart when Rishi is abducted by Kashmiri separatists. Over the years Roja has attained cult status, particularly because of the performances of its leads Madhoo and Arvind Swamy. One stills remembers that scene where Rishi falls on the burning Indian flag to put out the fire.

7. ‘Tahaan’

<i>Tahaan</i> is beautifully shot by Santosh Sivan.
Tahaan is beautifully shot by Santosh Sivan.

Ace cinematographer Santosh Sivan’s film Taahan was of course beautifully shot but was also a heart-warming story of a boy and his donkey. Sivan’s aim was to create a fable set in Kashmir, but the film barely lasted at the box office. It’s a still a film worth visiting again though, for the exquisite visuals and the adorable kid.

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