We’re worried about being trolled, called ‘anti-national’: Lamhaa director on contradictory depiction of Kashmir issue

Srinagar: Lamhaa director Rahul Dholakia, in an exclusive interview with News18, commented on the contradictory depiction of the Kashmir conflict in Indian media, stating that filmmakers like him are worried about being called ‘anti-national’.

“First, we were worried about the box office. Then we started worrying about the ban. Now we are worried about being trolled and called ‘anti-national’. So we shy away from addressing the real issues. We tried to tell a bit of the story in ‘Lamhaa,’ but I think even that was diluted. In fact, it was banned in mid-eastern countries because they felt ‘how can a woman speak up against the system?’” he said, in the interview.

Commenting on the recent February 14 attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir which killed 49 CRPF personnel, he said that the country was currently ‘going through a phase of nationalism’, which has increased since 2014. He said that it was unfortunate how most of them hadn’t seen a war, or knew anyone who had been in a war, or lost their lives due to it.

“To be honest, the wars we fought — be it Kargil or even 1971, we as citizens never had to sacrifice anything. So, it’s easy to shout: ‘Go To War,’ because we have never paid the price of war. What happened in Pulwama was horrible. It should never have happened,” he said.

Terming the harassment and attacks on Kashmiri students across india as ‘stupid and uncalled for’, he questioned how Kashmiris were being beaten up if their state was an integral part of India.

Detailing his experience while shooting Lamhaa, he observed how most Kashmiris were not against Indians, but rather ‘against Armed Forces’. He also stated how many were not pro-Pakistan either.

“The Kashmiris are peaceful and extremely hospitable people. But there is one whole generation which has grown up since 1990, where they have only heard bullets and bad things about India. They have seen atrocities created by the men in green, and quite honestly, they don’t know or don’t care if they are Ikhwan, CRPF or Army. For them, these are the people who are the jailors in their ‘beautiful prison’,” he said in the interview.

Touching on the other side of the spectrum, he agreed on the pathetic facilities of the armed personnel and the harsh, cold winters in Kashmir. ‘Archaic heaters, uncomfortable bunkers, most of them have no entertainment and or sub-standard equipment and clothing. I mean it’s probably a miracle as to how they are so motivated,’ he said.

Talking about the Kashmiri Pandits, he said that there hasn’t been a ‘good enough film’.

“I have been to Jammu refugee camps and have spoken to the displaced Pandits. I got to know that more people have died of snake bites there than of bullets in the valley. They were angry with all those who would speak about the plight of the Pandits during the elections and then forgot about it. Most of these people had ‘kothis’ in the valley and now they were in 10×10 rooms. Their houses were either taken over by Kashmiri Muslims or mainly by our forces to make bunkers,” he said.

He noted how, while taking up the Kashmir conflict issue on cinema, it was important to do so with conviction.

“Forget the cinema, we are so guarded when we tweet or make any statements. Look what happened to Shah Rukh (Khan) and Aamir (Khan). But then when I made ‘Parzania’, the reason why I think I could do it that way, was because I was living in America. In India, it’s the people around you who scare you, dissuade you and then you start finding the easy way out. The businessman in you starts negotiating with the artiste in you. End result is you neither get box office nor the National Award. So, if we are to take up such issues, do it with conviction,” he said.

According to the report, the interview was conducted before India’s ‘pre-emptive strikes across Line of Control’ on Tuesday.

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