Bashir Baba, a former militant whose son’s story has inspired Ashwin Kumar’s film, will be in the city on Friday to take part in a panel discussion. Inshaallah, Football is the opening film at the second edition of the Naya Cinema Festival and festival director Pranav Ashar is looking forward to Bashir’s visit: “It’s not because we expect it to garner media coverage for us, but Bashir could give us a first information report on what’s happening in the Valley.”
On May 31, 2011, Bashir was ‘picked up’ at midnight from his home that was ransacked, and detained at the local police station without charges for five days. This, eight years after he was first ‘picked up’ in 2003, and “casually asked about supplying improvised explosive devices in the Maulvi Shaukat Shah blast and murder case”.
His son, Basharat, who’s a star footballer, lost the chance to become the first Kashmiri to play for a professional club in Brazil when he was refused a passport because of his father’s background. When it was finally issued after two years, at 21 he was “over-age” and his dreams went bust.
Basharat continues to play for his home club though and last year on July 16, was kicked in the eye by an opponent during a game and was rushed to the hospital, bleeding profusely. His team was also attacked. The next day, the same person struck his coach, Juan Marco Troia, on the head from behind. Earlier, the Troias had to move after their house was vandalised and their dogs killed. They’ve also received death threats. Marco, a 30-year-old Argentinian and FIFA-accredited football coach who’s revolutionised the game in Kashmir, admits his players are at risk every time they take to the field.“When I chose the title, I hoped one day soon, Bashir would be able to hold his head up high as a free citizen of India and Basharat would do India proud on the soccer field. And Marco's academy would become a celebrated, model institution for the Kashmiri youth,” says Kumar, whose debut feature, Little Terrorist, received an Oscar nomination.
The censors however refused to pass Inshallah, Football because of the reel life Bashir’s description of torture in the inafmous Papa II interrogation center in the early ’90s. They eventually passed it with an ‘A’ certificate and the film will have a countrywide release on DVD.