It was a chance remark by a Kashmiri student describing Kashmir as a "beautiful prison" that set filmmaker Rahul Dholakia thinking, and led to the making of his Lamhaa. The film, releasing July 16, is facing censor trouble over certain dialogues.
Dholakia, who won the National Award for his Parzania (2005), says he took the decision to make Lamhaa after meeting a few Kashmiri students.
"The reason why I decided to make a film on the valley was that during one of the screenings of Parzania, I met a few Kashmiri students. They said Kashmir is a beautiful prison. That's something that caught my attention," Dholakia told IANS in an interview.
Lamhaa, a film that deals with the life of Kashmiris in the valley, has fallen into the censor net many times.
The director says he is irritated with the way the film body functions.
Initially, it was reported that the censor board rejected the promo of the film and the filmmakers had to approach the revising committee.
Then the board demanded deletions of words - like sabse from the dialogue duniya ki sabse khatarnak jagah Kashmir (the world's most dangerous place Kashmir) and also farji from farji elections (bogus elections).
"When troubles like these happen, one gets irritated, angry, annoyed, frustrated on the hypocrisy and multiple standards that our government and our censor board have," he said.
"Either you fight that or you live with that. If you want to live with that then you should not make films like Lamhaa. But if you want to make a film like Lamhaa, be prepared for it and that's what we are doing," he added.
Dholakia who earlier made Parzania, a film against the backdrop of the Gujarat riots, said that when you make sensitive films you have to be ready to deal with problems.
"From Parzania I've learnt that the moment you get into a film with a sensitive topic, you should expect trouble."
"That was one of the main reasons for making Lamhaa as a commercial venture with big stars and a big production house so that even if something happens, eventually the film will get picked by someone and be released."
Lamhaa stars Bipasha Basu, Sanjay Dutt, Kunal Kapoor and Anupam Kher in pivotal roles.
Why did he choose Bipasha to play a Kashmiri girl, even though her look is very unlike one?
"There were many reasons to cast Bipasha in that role. I needed someone who could give time, who could battle both internal and external conflicts of the character and someone who was brave enough to come to the valley and shoot. She was the one who did that," he revealed.
Apart from Lamhaa, Dholakia is working on a film called Society which stars Dimple Kapadia, Om Puri, Seema Biswas and Paresh Rawal, among others.
"We finished shooting in April. It is a satire on society...It is a less stressful, lighter, hopefully non-controversial film," he informed.
The director is also working on a legal drama, which is being produced by B.R. Films.
(Ruchika Kher can be contacted at email@example.com )