Harud: Film Review

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By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Up Front

Kashmir has been showcased in cinema for decades by Bollywood. We have seen actors romancing beautiful ladies, a content which Indian audiences are well aware of in Indian cinema. Harud (2010), directed by Aamir Bashir, however, is an attempt which reflects uniqueness about Kashmir's subjugation.

The name 'Harud' meaning 'autumn' matches the whole theme of the movie perfectly. It depicts a community in a form of perpetual decay- it's metaphorical meaning runs deep in the cinematic content showing despair, anger and hostility around.  While watching the movie, some moviegoers may be reminded of Vindhu Vinod Chopra's Mission: Kashmir, a movie belonging from a similar genre, but the movie actually takes a departure from mainstream cinema due to its offbeat content.

The movie talks about a shattered family who has been a victim of armed insurgency having lost a son, Tauqir, due in the late 1980's. The main protagonist Rafiq (Shahnawaz Bhat) is depicted as an angry youth, whose actions depict identity crises against the Indian State.

While Rafiq's mother (Shamim Basharat) expects that her son will return one day, Rafiq's father (Reza Nanji) has developed post-traumatic stress disorder which makes him realise that his other son will also take a violent path one day.

The film revolves around this main theme until death rings the family again.

Kashmir's socio-political stigma lies in the background of the movie. We see soldiers lingering in front of offices of political parties, making fire, frisking people out of buses, engaging in crossfire.

Srinagar's daily life is shown in busy markets, Azadi protests, in noises of cars, and in violence disrupting daily life.

There is also life shown in Kashmiri styled homes, youth playing football, pretty girls longing for their lost ones, and garden protests with people holding placards with dismayed faces.

Harud is unconventional cinema because of its slow paced styled cinematography which people mostly see in Turkish cinema. Very recently, Turkish director Nuri Ceylan gave a haste to this development.

Reza Nanji, the Iranian actor, who also acted in a popular Iranian film, Songs of Sparrows (2008) has worked very hard for his character, as a psychologically ridden traffic policeman.

Shahnawaz Bhat portrays anger of his circumstances in his expressions quite well in the whole movie. He has acted very naturally. The dialogues are very simple, but the power actually lies in the cinematic background, which the director has succeeded in by showcasing the untouched life of conflict-ridden Srinagar.

That's where Aamir Bashir scores.

After watching Harud (2010), people should question their inner-beliefs. They should retrospect about a Kashmir which they haven't seen.

It's evocating because it's cinema is hard hitting and filled with a brave departure from romance to a genre about a real conflict zone - Kashmir.

Harud was a selection at the 2010 Toronto Festival, London Film Festival, at BFI Mumbai Film festival and was released on PVR directors rare banner.



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