One of the great documentaries from independent India, the film is a stunningly photographed saga of an ancient and now politically war-torn land: Kashmir. The celebration of Indian independence in Kashmir begins with the burial of bodies whose deaths took place for unknown reasons. The flag ritually goes up in the heart of Srinagar, Kashmir. But the empty streets and the sullen silence that greet India’s claim on Kashmir spark off old questions about freedom and its denial. After 18 years of an armed struggle, with 60,000 dead and nearly 7,000 missing, Kashmir’s people begin to look within their ledger of loss. Using a mix of verité footage, rare archival material, poetry and text, this is a provocative look at Indian democracy, and a reflection on power, resistance and freedom’s terrible thirst.
This is the first of three films on Kashmir, all of which signal the revival of a documentary of rights. It has been filmed by one of India’s leading cinematographers, Ranjan Palit.