Cinema is a fascinating subject but Indian cinema popularly known as Bollywood is more so because of the peculiar traits of the people who watch it. Kashmir as a paradise as evoked in films of 1960’s has in some ways carried over into recent films dealing with the Kashmir issue. The historicization of Bollywood’s long Kashmir obsession is thus an exploration of how this obsession fits into the contested political relationship between Kashmir and the Indian Union.
Films of 1960’s made the Kashmir Valley the space for the expression of a new youthful modernity for urban Indians, especially through the technology of color. Pleasures of these films with the formation of a modern Indian subjectivity, contrasts these pleasures with the mounting political tensions within Kashmir.
It was in 1964 that Kashmir Ki Kali (K3) hit the cinemas as a salad of music, romance and drama; garnished with fresh sprigs of the Kashmiri locale. Kashmir is kali was a musical that presented a trip to Srinagar on a couch. The era of color had brought a sort of vibrancy into movies. Outdoors and their natural colors turned into a rage. The white of snow was much beautiful in a color movie than grey and grey movies. So K3 was a treat to the moviegoers with its beautiful Kashmiri locations.
In 1999, it was Kargil War that played a distinctive role in making Kashmir central to the definition Indian national unity. The Kargil episode inspired a first Post Independent India, which had never before stood together, shoulder to shoulder, than it did during and for a short while after the Kargil Episode. Kargil became the USP of film makers. Even though these films didn’t make it big at box office level but they got admiration from all types of people. Advertisement of national pride through films enabled for the first time in 52 years, this nation truly united as one, cutting across all barriers of caste, class, creed, and community.
While Bollywood has long projected Kashmir as the eroticized landscape of the mind in the social imaginary of Indians’ it was Mani Ratnam’s flamboyant narrative of guns and roses – Roja (1992) – that kick-started a reexamination of Bollywood’s complicity with ‘the secret politics of our desires’. Violence and geopolitics have intervened within Kashmir’s cinematic performance and reception. With the emergence of Kashmiri separatism in 1989, the Valley now offers a theatre for a new ‘cinepatriotism’ for the romance of Indo-Pak war rather than the battle of the sexes (Kabir, 2004a).
Although numerous films were made on Kashmir; it is the modicum of films or none of these films that portrayed indigenous cultural space of Kashmir. The celebrated brotherhood between Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims was never tried to be publicized by film makers. It was only in Jagmohan period in Kashmir, the animosity aroused in non-communal Kashmir. The political structures were structured in a manner that led to communal confrontation in the Valley. The people who had lived since centuries harmoniously became the victims of communal politics thus led them to exterminate each other. This phenomenal catastrophe was portrayed in films in enthusiastically without letting people to question the veracity.
In reality it is only 10 bad films that Bollywood has been able to produce on Kashmir after 1990’s. If we analyze these films it makes one clear about how the mainstream media represents Kashmir and Kashmiri people. Almost in most of these films Kashmiri’s are either labeled as terrorists or fundamental Muslim’s whose morals and ethic are pre-modern and doesn’t fit in this western democratic liberal society. There is palpable change in titles itself, how the films related with Kashmir started with titles like Kali, Hena and then transformation of titles to Mission Kashmir, Fannah. The changes in the titles clearly signify the loss of innocence and creation of defective place called Kashmir.