If you’ve been following Indian cinema actively, you’d know that each and every film industry in India has its own story and embellished experience.
Since the last 45 years, Kashmir saw no films being screened outside the state from the local production because it became a breeding ground of political conflict. Amidst the perpetual political disorder, Hussain manages to conjure a creative diary of a journalist who raises a voice against drug abuse and unemployment. Hussein who was a former actor and journalist experimented with his debut film, “Kashmir Daily” and mourned the restrictions on his creativity because of the lack of funds.
“There wasn’t any military interference, and by God’s grace, I had a very smooth run. There were other difficulties, excluding political conflicts. It was a struggle because we got no support and I self-financed the film. I was the producer and we had no funds so there were issues. We completed the film in three years because of these struggles. For an independent filmmaker like me, yes, we do face a lot of problems while releasing the film. Otherwise, it is not a big deal. Release mein hi problem aata hai but we’re thankful to PVR because they have provided the platform to us where we can showcase the film all over India.”
It is the first movie from Kashmir that is getting released all over India… You’ll find an Iranian cinema touch to the film, it isn’t like a commercial Bollywood film… We’re planning on making many films in the future, but this film will act as the catalyst.
While mourning the financial restrictions on his creative endeavours, he also said that if you’re persistent enough, you get your ways out through the situation.
“I have worked in the advertisement world for all these years so I would collect money from there and spend that on the shoots. I had shot for 65 days in three and a half years so you can well imagine. Har do do din ke schedule ke hisaab se plan karte the. I borrowed money from my friends, my closed ones and completed it. Despite your limitations, you need to turn this frustration into a narrative device.”
The History of Kashmiri cinema dates back to 1964 which released Jagjiram Pal’s ‘Mainz Raat’ and the last Kashmiri film to get a theatrical release outside the region was Prabhat Mukherjee’s 1972 film ‘Shayar-e-Kashmir Mehjoor’ in 1972. Hussein also expressed his excitement over its release after forty-five years.
After India, we plan to go international because the film is in Kashmiri and Hindi. World cinema is the target… Most films do rounds of film festivals and then they come back for a release but we wanted to release it first. We got good reviews and recognition from Kashmir World Film Festival so that reassured us.
“I am very excited. It is the first movie from Kashmir that is getting released all over India. We’ve all worked hard and this is a realistic meditation on our commitment to filmmaking despite any circumstance. It is more realistic rather than mere entertainment. You’ll find an Iranian cinema touch to the film, it isn’t like a commercial Bollywood film. I just want people to watch this film and give us support and encouragement to make films. Especially people who are related to the film industry because their support is necessary to establish something over here. We’re planning on making many films in the future, but this film will act as the catalyst.”
We questioned him why the film’s from Kashmir weren’t released outside the state and he answered, “I know for sure that it is because of lack of funding and the lack of communication between the government and the local producers. The other reason might be because we have all faced problems since the 90s. But we’re still trying to reestablish our own industry. So hopefully things change. The director certainly embraced the challenge and is positive about creating a benchmark for other aspiring filmmakers in Kashmir.
“I don’t think it is just another initiative, I believe it’ll be a milestone. It is the first film but I’m glad that now people are actually thinking of making a film in Kashmir and are also thinking of possibilities.”
Cinema, I think, is the best medium of communication and it’s very important not just for Kashmir but for the rest of the world as well. Good cinema is a necessary and not just a leisure activity… Cinema isn’t just about beauty and grandeur, it’s the wide-faced truth.
The debutant director who started his career with acting way back in 1993, shifted to journalism and started a local TV Kashmiri channel which ran for a couple of years and then the channel was banned because of political turbulence. He was all in praise of lead actor Mir Sarwar who had a minor accident during the shoot.
“Unfortunately, Mir got hurt during a fight sequence and we had to stop the shoot immediately. His determination is commendable and it would have impossible to think of a project like this without his support. He has been an incredible performer and has been a supporter since the first day. It would have been difficult without him.”
Hussein is focused to his art and also plans for an international release. He adds, “After India, we plan to go international because the film is in Kashmiri and Hindi. World cinema is the target. We kept in mind the larger audience and we’re planning to screen the film outside India. Most films do rounds of film festivals and then they come back for a release but we wanted to release it first. We got good reviews and recognition from Kashmir World Film Festival so that reassured us.”
In his own rather startling way, Hussein’s film redefines the humanitarian theme of indie cinema.
“Cinema, I think, is the best medium of communication and it’s very important not just for Kashmir but for the rest of the world as well. Good cinema is a necessary and not just a leisure activity. If we make films, we can tell stories and reach to the world. These stories are hidden and they need to be heard. Cinema isn’t just about beauty and grandeur, it’s the wide-faced truth. All of these are expressions in realistic methods, without necessarily overriding political and social messages.”
Although the interview was telephonic, we could sense Hussein Khan’s stalwart personality, his total conviction to filmmaking, and his humility. We need more rebellious artists like him in our world of cinema who aren’t ready to give up. His message to other aspiring filmmakers goes out like this, “Aag ka dariya hai, usme kud ke hi jaana hai. Agar apme himmat hai toh ye aag ko paar karke duniya ke saamne aa jaoge. If you’re not fighting the fire, you’ll burn. That’s the only way your art deserves to be treated.”
WATCH the trailer of Kashmir Daily: