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Playing ball in Kashmir

It took an extraordinary cast of characters to offer an extraordinary glimmer of hope to the young and restless of Kashmir.

movie reviews Updated: May 18, 2012 23:29 IST

Inshallah, Football
Enlighten, Rs. 499
Rating: ****1/2

It took an extraordinary cast of characters to offer an extraordinary glimmer of hope to the young and restless of Kashmir. Five years ago, when violence was peaking in the Valley after a brief lull, Argentinean-born football coach Juan Marcos Troia and his spirited Brazilian-born wife Priscilla made the beleaguered Srinagar their home. The couple’s audacious mission was to train young Kashmiris in football and lend a sense of purpose to their frustrated lives. In Basharat, an 18-year-old son of ex-militant Bashir, they found a troubled life they could attempt to transform.

Ashvin Kumar’s 78-minute documentary — which got an ‘A’ rating from the Censors after being rejected on the first attempt — is the remarkable story of that attempt. Woven in is the story of the current generation of Kashmiri youth — their loves, dreams and disappointments.

Marcos has chosen Basharat from among a handful of teens in his International Sports Academy Trust to play in Brazil. It’s the stuff of dreams. But his family history comes in the way of Basharat getting a passport. As he pushes his application, ‘Basha’ also turns ‘reporter’ for Kumar’s camera, asking Kashmiris about their choices. In the process he meets a cast as diverse as a senior police superintendent in the investigative wing of Kashmir police, former militants, a Pandit family that chose to stay back, and even chief minister Omar Abdullah. Will Basharat be able to step out of the cycle of violence? His story stands for that of Kashmir, whether the Indian government likes the ‘foreign foot’ or not.