Kashmir is burning. Everybody knows it. However when did the current wildfire get its first spark ? Even those who know it, are hesistant to utter a word about it. Kashmir was not burning this way till 1989. In 1989, Pakistan supported secessionists started a vicious compaign against the minority Pandit community of the Kashmir valley and forced them to leave their homes under threats to their lives, property and the honour of their women. It destroyed the secular character of the Kashmir valley and Kashmiriyat suffered an irreparable hurt. That spark has now developed into a wildfire which seems to be beyond anybody’s control. The intention of Pakistan was to convert the valley into a uni-religious place and then start its hue and cry for its secession on the same religious ground on which it itself had been created on 14.08.1947. Pakistan has been successful in its wicked mission to a large extent and is now all set to get what it could not get through direct wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971 (and in 1999 too, at Kargil).Secular, liberal and right-thinking human-beings whether they are Hindus or Muslims or Sikhs or Christians or likewise always suffer through the blind and heartless activities of religious fanatics. However whereas several good movies have been made on the plight of innocent Muslims, there is only one movie made on the misfortune of the Kashmiri Pandits. It’s Sheen (2004) which was made by a victimized Kashmiri Pandit himself, Mr. Ashok Pandit. Sahara India financed and backed its making.Sheen (snow) is the story of a Kashmiri Pandit family consisting of a widower father, Pandit Amarnath (Raj Babbar) and his daughter Sheen (Sheen) who is engaged to Mannu (Tarun Arora). Pandit Amarnath refuses to leave Srinagar when the terroristic activities go on against the Pandits, forcing them to flee from their homeland. When his own neighbour and beloved, Shaukat (Anoop Soni) turns against them alongwith other Pandits, he is taken aback. How the three protagonists struggle to raise the voice of the downtrodden and terrorized innocent Pandits is the remaining story which establishes in the end that terrorism has no religion and a misguided Muslim Kashmiri youth like Shaukat may also realize it but only after paying the huge cost in the form of the honour of his sister and his own life in the hands of the Pakistani terrorists.Being a victim himself, director Ashok Pandit has made the movie with utmost sincerety and honesty. However I consider it his big mistake to direct the movie himself. Given the sensitive and the laudable story, he should have hired the services of some seasoned director of Bollywood to do justice to it and make a hard-hitting, yet touching movie, soaked with humanity. But his inexperience has let him (and the audience) down. The movie is not that impressive as it should have been. However his toil is to be appreciated. He has quite realistically highlighted the painful fact of the poor treatment meted out to the Pandits in the relevant camps at Delhi etc. which was nothing short of insult to injury for those innocents.
Technically the movie is just ok. Cinematographer has captured the snowy beauty of Kashmir quite ably. The biggest asset of the movie is the highly melodious music of Nadeem Shravan with the meaningful and beautiful lyrics of Sameer for songs like Ye To Kashmir Hai Iski Fiza Ka Kya Kehna, Aye Sanam Kuja Beri, Main Ladki Kashmir Ki and Tum Dua Karo which have been sung by singers like Udit Narayan, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sapna Mukherjee, Sonu Nigam, Kumar Sanu and Nirja Pandit; alongwith the Qawwaali of Sabari Brothers – Sahaara Chaahiye. However the best song of this movie is Aao Jannat Mein Jahannum Ka Nazaara Dekho which has been jointly sung by Kumar Sanu, Mohd Aziz, Nirja Pandit, Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam, Udit Narayan etc. No music lover should miss this extra-ordinary music album.
Performance wise talking, the newcomer girl Sheen in the title role, disappoints. Tarun Arora is so-so. The knock-out performances have come from Raj Babbar as Pandit Amarnath and Anoop Soni as Shaukat. Both have acted with utmost naturalness.
I recommend this movie to all the secularists and humanists in India as well as abroad and appeal to my Muslim brethren and sisters to support the cause of the Kashmiri Pandits who have been forced to live like refugees in their own country. Due to the disgusting vote bank politics in India, no strong voices are heard to sympathize with this pain-stricken community. Nothing appears to be done to heal their wounds. In my clear and unbiased opinion, peace can never return to Kashmir unless the Pandits are rehabilitated in their homeland and the secular character of Kashmir is restored. After driving out more than three lakh Pandits from the valley, the secessionistic forces have diverted their guns towards the Sikh community now. My straightforward question is – if non-Muslims cannot live in Kashmir with peace and dignity, does secular India really need that Kashmir ?
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