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Hamid review: Crisis of Kashmir is explored realistically through a child's eyes

Release Date: 15 Mar 2019

Read in: Hindi | Marathi


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Keyur Seta

Aijaz Khan's Hamid explores the situation in Kashmir through the story of a Kashmiri boy.

Kashmir is one of the most beautiful places one can visit. Unfortunately, the valley is constantly in the news not for its beauty, but for the heart-wrenching conflict between the locals, who have been demanding ‘azadi’, and the security forces. 

We, living in other parts of the country, glance through the news articles on the conflict in the valley without giving them much thought. But we cannot ignore that people from our own country are being tortured and murdered by both sides. All that the innocent civilians want is a normal life.

Aijaz Khan's Hamid explores the situation in Kashmir through the story of an innocent Kashmiri boy.

The film is based in the remote village of Budderkote, at the foothills of Gulmarg. Rehmat Ali (Sumit Kaul) lives with wife Ishrat Kazmi (Rasika Dugal) and son Hamid (Talha Arshad Reshi).

Rehmat contructs boats for a living and is proud of his work though he does not earn much from it. Their neighbourhood often experiences clashes between the insurgents and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

One night Rehmat returns home amidst a tense situation but realizes that he has forgotten to bring battery cells for Hamid. He takes the risk of venturing out at night to bring them and goes missing. Ishrat runs from pillar to post in search of her husband but cannot find him.

Meanwhile, Hamid dials a number he believes will connect him to Allah from his father’s phone. He wishes to send across a message to god requesting him to bring Rehmat back. The number actually belongs to a CRPF trooper named Abhay Kumar (Vikas Kumar) and the two, from opposite sides of the divide, form a bond. But where will this lead?

On the surface, Hamid is the story of a man going missing and what that means for his wife and young son. One might have come across this plotline in quite a few films in many languages. But it is the setting of the remote area of Kashmir that offers Hamid the opportunity to stand apart from the other films.

The tension between the security forces and the locals is dealt with creatively and boldly, without taking sides. To depict what the army, which is deployed in large parts of Kashmir thinks of the demand for an independent Kashmir, two soldiers are shown urinating on a wall that has 'azadi' scrawled on it.

The film shows sympathy for the locals of Kashmir through its main characters. Rehmat's family suffers even though they are innocent and decent people.

Along with its portrayal of the valley's political situation, the film looks at the relationship between strangers. They might be from opposite sides of the conflict, but, at the end of the day, they are human beings with hearts. The bond between Hamid and Abhay is formed through a natural and gradual process. Their conversations move you and, surprisingly, make you laugh also at times.

Despite the complicated situation, the film takes a simple and gentle approach. Therefore, the events leading up to the climax appear quite chaotic and don’t quite gel with the rest of the film. It does, however, end on a heartwarming note.

The audio-visual elements of the film are a treat. Cinematographer John Wilmor has presented breathtaking visuals of the scenic valley. He has also done a commendable job capturing minute details of the simple village. The background score is pleasing and gentle.

You cannot remain unmoved by child artiste Talha Arshad Reshi. His performance plays a major role in making this film an emotional ride. His acting skills coupled with his innocence make you feel and care for him.

Rasika Dugal, who was seen recently as Safia Manto in Manto (2018), is phenomenal again as Ishrat Kazmi. She lives the character and becomes just like any other helpless woman from a remote place in the valley. Her Kashmiri-accented Hindi does not appear forced either.

Vikas Kumar enters the film as a short-tempered trooper who hates the insurgents. But as the film progresses, he becomes gentle in an organic way. Sumit Kaul has a limited role but plays it memorably.

Hamid is that rare Hindi feature film that showcases the real picture of Kashmir, pretty much like Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider (2014) and Piyush Jha’s Sikander (2009) did.

Hamid was screened at the 20th Mumbai Film Festival on 30 October 2018.

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