Banner: Alipur Films
Producer: Ashvin Kumar
Director: Ashvin Kumar
Cast: Zara Webb, Shivam Raina, Ashvin Kumar, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Natasha Mago, Maya Sarao, Soni Razdan, Anshuman Jha, Sushil Dahiya
Writer: Ashvin Kumar
Music: Loïk Dury, Christophe ‘Disco’ Minck
While movies usually depict the beautiful, rolling landscape of Kashmir, it is common knowledge that life is heart-wrenchingly difficult for the people of the Valley. Writer-director Ashvin Kumar talks about the not-so-pleasant side of Kashmir, through the eyes of a teenage girl Noor in No Fathers In Kashmir.
Noor is a Kashmiri girl, who was raised in a protected environment. As the story progresses, we realise that her mother moved away from Kashmir after the disappearance of her father. Noor is back to visit her paternal grandparents. Here, she forges a friendship with Majid, whose mother tells her that her father was taken away by the Indian Army.
On investigating, Noor also learns that Arshid, now a sort of Islamic leader in the village, is responsible not only for her father going missing but perhaps his death as well. Shaken, Noor seeks Majid’s help to find her father’s grave. In their search, the two teenagers stumble into army territory and are immediately taken into custody. Majid is tortured but Noor manages to go scot-free, thanks to her father-to-be, who is an officer in the foreign service. Is Majid freed by the army? Is Noor able to find answers to her questions? Are her grandparents able to find closure about their son? This forms rest of the story.
Ashvin Kumar has tried to bring into focus different issues in the Valley, but in the process, there seems to be a lack of focus. The love track between Noor and Majid is absolutely unnecessary and dilutes the prime agenda of the film. Also, there are some portions in the screenplay that are too good to be true. For example, the ease with which Noor manages to get close to a militant in hiding or how she and Majid manage to find graves and grenades! Even though the run time of the film is only around two hours, it seems longer.
Only in the last 45-odd minutes does the film seem to come alive and talk about the issues it wants to address. The camera work is beautiful and Kashmir has been captured well. There are moments when we see the narrative unfold via Noor’s phone camera. The approach is interesting and adds to the beauty of the frame.
Performance-wise, Zara Webb as Noor and Shivam Raina as Majid are amazing. They seem to belong to the Valley and have played their parts well. Ashvin Kumar plays Arshid, a complex role. He is effective in parts. Soni Razdan and Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Noor’s grandparents deliver seasoned performances. Anshuman Jha as an army major has nothing much to do. Natasha Mago as Noor’s mother does a decent job. Maya Sarao as Majid’s mother is okay.