Harud director on a film thats taken nine years to come to a theatre near you

Dhamini.Ratnam @timesgroup.com

Harud,Persian for autumn,is actor Aamir Bashirs first directorial venture,but it lacks the tentativeness of a first offering.The 100-minute film tells the story of Rafiq (played with remarkable stillness by Shahnawaz Bhat),a 19-year-old Srinagar resident whose brother has disappeared like thousands of other Kashmiri men.It seems to ask a simple question what effect does the ever-present spectre of death have on psyches made brittle by years of violence and very real oppression
Bashir,who left Kashmir in 1990 to study in New Delhi,felt the need to tell the story of Kashmir to right a wrong.Commercial cinema,says the actor of A Wednesday and Peepli (Live),has traditionally seen Kashmir as a location,but not as a receptacle of stories of people.I wanted to tell the story of those caught in the crossfire (of idealogues); those who dont have a choice, he says.
Bashir began thinking of this film in 2003,and finally shot it in 2009.It releases today under PVR Directors Cut,two years after it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival.

EXCERPTS OF THE INTERVIEW:

 

This story is unlike anything wed expect from an actor of commercial Hindi cinema.Was this intended

Absolutely.This film is an act of resistance against commercial cinema.Wherever we felt the film could be made more accessible,say a scene where we could have heightened the emotional quotient by adding a background score,we decided not to do it.We have grown to expect certain things from commercial Hindi cinema,and while making this film,we took an aesthetic decision to thwart all expectations of the audience.We wanted them to feel the same hopelessness and disappointment that the protagonist faces every day.This film was not made for the audience to understand the Kashmiri problem.I also wanted to tell a story that doesnt get told of people who know that they are not heroes,but dont have the choice to leave.

How long did it take for you to get a censor certificate

Three months.Thats how long it takes for you to get a visa if you are flagged.The examining committee said they didnt want to give it any certificate U,A,U/A given its topic.The revising committee suggested a few cuts in areas where they thought the film was promoting azaadi (independence),and then gave it a U/A certificate,after some back and forth.But the real problem this film faced was that of distribution.Harud doesnt fit into any label indie,crossover,parallel cinema.Of course,its a different thing that these labels are not well defined.For instance,how does Dhobi Ghat,financed by one of the most powerful people,get to be called indie cinema

What cuts were you asked to make

At the start of the film,weve used archival news footage of a demonstration.The board asked us to delete the slogan,Bharat se lenge azaadi,but it was okay with the English slogan,We want our freedom. At a later stage however,we were asked to delete that line too.They werent happy with hypothetical references to azaadi,either.

The mindscape is a central part of your film,too.

In Kashmir,if youve suffered violence once,the chances of facing it again are very high.The unfortunate thing is that no one pays attention to how it has affected people mentally.According to a survey conducted by the Medecins Sans Frontieres,nearly 40 per cent of the people in Kashmir are clinically depressed.My next film looks into this.Its about a mentally unstable woman,whose husband is a militant.

Harud will play at select PVR cinemas across the city from July 27 to August 2

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