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We have had enough of 'Bumbro' from Kashmir: Danish Renzu on Half Widow

The filmmaker believes that real stories of Kashmir need to be told in today's cinema. 

Keyur Seta

Director Danish Renzu originates from Srinagar in Kashmir; he later migrated to the US. But he says he will always be Kashmiri from heart. That’s why his debut feature film Half Widow is based in Kashmir. It revolves around a woman who gets separated from her husband. 

Half Widow is a realistic portrayal of Kashmir, but it also shows a degree of optimism. This positivity matters a lot to Renzu. “I wanted to make it as real as possible and at the same time a little optimistic as well, which I think is so important. It’s the need of the hour right now for stories from Kashmir,” he said during an exclusive conversation with us held at the 21st Mumbai Film Festival this October. 

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The filmmaker believes we have had enough of Bollywood-ised films on Kashmir. “We have had enough of ‘Bumbro.’ You need more than ‘Bumbro’ from Kashmir right now,” said Renzu. “Although you do show the reality of what people are going through, we have to make sure it is uplifting. But we have to find solutions for our characters who are victims and have gone through so much.” 

Neelofar Hamid in Half Widow

Jammu and Kashmir has constantly been in the news for the past few months ever since Article 370 has been scrapped by the government of India. When asked whether he would be willing to make a film revolving around this, Renzu made it clear that he wishes to steer clear of politics although he wishes to narrate real stories of Kashmir. 

“I always believe we are not politicians at all. I would never want to make a political statement. Human stories is something I am more interested in. It could be a captain, a Kashmiri woman or anyone. These are human stories that need to be told. Being a Kashmiri, we have a responsibility to bring our stories out there and make sure we do justice to them,” said Renzu. 

For Half Widow, he was clear in only casting actors from Kashmir, including the lead actress Neelofar Hamid. “The reason why the film appears realistic is because all the characters are played by Kashmiri actors,” he said. 

Renzu feels fortunate to find Hamid for the lead of Half Widow. “She is such a great actor. I saw her for the first time in the film Valley Of Saints back in 2006. I auditioned her and she was the right fit. There are very few female actors in Kashmir. There is Zaira [Wasim] but she is more of a commercial star and she is not acting any more,” shared the filmmaker. 

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