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Ashvin Kumar is an Indian film-maker who has made Kashmir an urgent focus of his career and was Oscar-nominated for his short film from 2004, Little Terrorist, about a Pakistani boy playing cricket who goes in search of his ball knocked over the Indian border. This film, of which Kumar is writer, director and co-star, is about a very pertinent contemporary topic: the “disappeared” people of Indian Kashmir – reportedly now as many as 8,000 – picked up by the Indian forces and imprisoned without trial or access to family or lawyers as a result of the heavy-handed new security crackdown following the government revoking Kashmir’s independent status last year.
In this story, a 16-year-old Kashmiri-British girl called Noor (Zara La Peta Webb) goes to Kashmir with her mum, Zeinab (Natasha Mago), and her mum’s new partner, a somewhat pompous Indian government apparatchik. Zeinab is on a mission to have her parents-in-law sign official documents declaring her husband dead so that she can remarry: Noor’s dad is one of the “disappeared”. Once there, Noor befriends 16-year-old Majid (Shivan Raina), whose father is also one of those made to vanish by the brutal military.
This is an urgent issue that needs raising, but I have to confess to being restive during this movie: the performances and line-readings were often underpowered. Visually, the film only really comes alive when we see the Instagram-type photos that Noor is taking on her smartphone, especially when Kumar gives us a rather inspired montage of these vivid, colourful images when Noor’s phone is smashed, the digital memory caught in the act of disappearing. Otherwise, the dramatic tone and look is flat and the film never quite comes to life.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: No Fathers in Kashmir review – flat drama doesn’t do its subject justice | Film