Protests in Kashmir as Lamhaa gears up for release
Eleven people have died in less than three weeks during demonstrations against the killing of Kashmiris by Indian forces, which began with the death of a school boy on June 11. Amidst escalating protests, Bollywood gears up to step into the valley with a story of violence in the region “as never seen before” on screen. Lamhaa, toplining Sanjay Dutt and Bipasha Basu, arrives in cinemas on July 16.The film has already fallen foul with the censors and people of the state.
The CBFC reportedly objected to Kashmir being described in the trailers as “the most dangerous place in the world”, forcing its director Rahul Dholakia to make some cuts. During the shoots, locals forced the crew to re-do a scene, as they were upset at their depiction of the land, often referred to as Paradise on Earth.
Dholakia, whose previous film Parzania tackled Hindu-Muslim riots in western Gujarat in 2002, said he expected censor problems, but hoped that the film would help foster dialogue. “There is a tremendous trust deficit and we need to bridge that by talking and keeping our past prejudices aside,” he asserted.
Dutt plays a military intelligence expert sent to Kashmir to root out a web of corruption. Deflecting questions about potential solutions to the Kashmir issue, the actor says, “I am not a politician. All I know is that the people of Kashmir want peace. It is a very beautiful place. Twenty nine years ago, I debuted in Rocky whose shooting took place there.”
A decade ago, Dutt’s Mission Kashmir was also a revenge saga set against the backdrop of relations between India and Pakistan and shot in part in the state’s summer capital Srinagar.