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Saturday, October 01, 2005


My implausibly low number of films seen this year should have ensured that this was not a pike that caught itself in my cine fishing net. It did, and stayed long enough before wriggling itself free and forever sinking into the morass of flops/failures/duds or whatever else they are called. This was part of a trio of first-time directors who coincidentally had their debuts released on the same day—the others being Sehar and 7.5 Phere, and it was mildly gratifying that even the most truculent of raving lunatics who call themselves critics or reviewers did not, or chose not to, write off any of these three.

Shot in Kashmir, and how ! A love story unfolds against the serene backdrop of the glorious Valley whose resplendence reduces by the minute, militancy and a closeted tension weighing heavy on the atmosphere, seeping through the pores of human existence. A young captain of the Indian Army falls in love with a local belle and they struggle on, predictably against draconian strictures and societal admonition. The entire array of cine ploys play themselves out—resistance, court martial, harrowing near-death experiences and a naïve bloodthirst that is unidirectional and purposeful.

So assuredly not much in the vein of an avant garde venture.
Shoojit Sircar however coaxes passable performances out of Jimmy Shergill and a lady called Minissha Lamba.. The story never attempts philosophical obliqueness but does not really toe the expected happenstances either. Sircar is comfortable with what some may call the middle path. His characters though in the heat of the moment do not degenerate into patriotic platitudes, cloying cliches or impassioned inanities, and this in itself is a triumph. Sameer Kohli, a non-practising manager claims writing credits as he did for Samay, another Robby Grewal production.

The director’s photographing expertise has very ordinary domestic scenes refreshingly capture the sheer breathtaking beauty of the land, and some shots are beyond belief. One could argue that it may not need much to simply reflect what Nature has already carved out for us, such is Kashmir.
The music is unobtrusive and pleasant—a thumbs up for Shantanu Moitra, and enables the heady idealism of the hero to be comfortably placed against the pragmatism of the heroine. Made for nice viewing and overall a positive experience !

I remain the captious kind so will end by cavilling against the fact that the leads are played by Punjabis, and the direction and the music are by Bengalis, for a film that is unabashedly about Kashmir.
Surely, a native…
…..jhelum mein behlenge
waadi ke mausam bhi ek din toh badlenge


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