Mumbai, 04 Mar 2020 14:00 IST
Updated: 05 Mar 2020 17:07 IST
Child artiste Saima Lateif is moving in her realistic portrayal of the young protagonist in this short film by Ashish Pandey.
Kashmir is synonymous with romance. Its very mention brings to mind, snow-peaked mountains, shikaras, chilly weather and some piping hot kahwa. However, the valley also has a dark side, which has been explored in recent times, in films like Haider (2014), Half Widow (2019) and No Fathers in Kashmir (2019).
Ashish Pandey’s short film, Nooreh also dwells on this sad and ugly side of the valley, but in an altogether different and creative manner. The film explores the situation in Kashmir through the eyes of an eight-year-old girl, Nooreh (Saima Latief), who lives in a small village bordering Pakistan.
The war between the militants and the Indian armed forces has created a grim situation. In other words, the situation and the state of the mind of the Kashmiris does nothing to reflect the natural beauty of this village, as well as other areas of Kashmir.
The sounds of gunshots from both the sides are a regular feature. Noor is too young to comprehend the complexities of the strife-ridden world around her. The incessant crossfire affects her, like it would any normal human being. She once realizes that the firing stops, if she keeps awake at night. Convinced about her theory, Nooreh stops sleeping at night in her bid to create peace.
There is a wide difference between Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and the little villages on the outskirts, like the one explored in Nooreh.
The cinematographer has succeeded in presenting the grim reality of the place. The two top angle shots of the village play a major role in convincing you of the dismal atmosphere prevailing there. It was imperative for the technical department to shine since there is very little dialogue used in the film.
Nooreh is more about a glimpse into the kind of life Kashmiris go through on a daily basis in the villages. Just like the villagers, the Indian armed personnel too are shown to be mechanically going about their daily job, with no joy. This is felt in the moment, where Noor calls out to an armed personnel, while indicating his moustache, but fails to get his attention.
Lateif’s act makes you feel for her right from the first frame. In fact, it doesn’t seem as if she is acting. She has neither seen the ethnic cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits, nor the emergence of militancy. Yet, she is forced to bear the consequences.
There are many like Nooreh, who are not concerned about the political issues. All they want is peace, and for the firing to stop.
Nooreh was screened at the 18th Asian Film Festival on 2 March 2020.