Other States

A musical bridge across Kashmir’s bitter divide

In a Valley riven by decades of conflict and loss, a musical film of less than six minutes is seeking to bridge the divide between the Kashmir’s Muslims and Pandits.

The 5:53-minute Ae Savere by a Kashmiri Muslim film-maker, Danish Renzu has an earnest message to the displaced Pandits: “return to your roofs in the Valley”.

With 1.18 lakh views within a month of the video’s release online, director Renzu, whose recent movie The Illegal made a noticeable mark on Netflix, said the protagonist of his musical short Viraat Dulari, played by actress Soni Razdan, shows the displaced community the way forward.

“Dulari returns to Kashmir after three decades and sips chai in her own home. Pandits should return and settle back in their culture, which is otherwise dying. They should return to their roofs. This is the right time to return and live in harmony,” Mr. Renzu told The Hindu in an interview.

The video showed pensive sadness grip Dulari as she drives home through narrow alleys of the old city in Srinagar with her grandson.

Mr. Renzu, 35, a resident of Srinagar, belongs to a generation of Kashmiri Muslims which has no memory of Pandits as their neighbours or friends. His only memory of Pandits was visiting empty houses in the neighbourhood in the 1990s.

“I saw these dilapidated Pandit houses in the neighbourhood. They had left behind all the belongings. My only memory was of the belongings but not the owners. That was a heart-breaking memory. People need to acknowledge what happened (in the 1990s) and move on to the narratives that takes the story forward and not backward,” he said.

Mr. Renzu has already done several projects with Kashmiri Pandit writer, Sunayana Kachroo, also a migrant. The duo’s work includes the poignant 2017 movie Half Widow about Kashmiri women from the Valley whose husbands have gone missing during the conflict.

“People should see all the point of views. The Pandits’ narrative is also important as other narratives from Kashmir. Being a Kashmiri Muslim and a film-maker, it was important to highlight the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. My co-artist Kachroo also lost her home to exodus. It was very important for me to bring that on screen,” he added.

The musical video has evoked emotional reactions from both the communities at a time when festering bitterness between the two communities has only worsened.

“Both Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits loved it because the story was told through a realistic approach through a character not using any political agenda,” Mr Renzu added.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 6:15:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/a-musical-bridge-across-kashmirs-bitter-divide/article36537026.ece

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