Kargil Film Festival organised by “Awam Ka Cinema” attempted to bring Kargil out of the shadows of the war that was waged between India-Pakistan in July 1999. The world sat in apprehension as the news of the attack broke. Overnight Kargil became a warzone — Something it never intended to be. Blessed with beauty, bombs re-wrote its destiny.
A fest in time
It has a face beyond the bunkers that the organisers tried to capture. Speaking on the purpose of the festival Shah Alam, director of the event said, “Not long ago we organised film festivals in other conflict stricken areas like Ayodhya and Chambal. It left the people thinking. Now we have one for Kargil. Such places have trust deficit and it is our motive to assimilate them with mainstream through alternative cinema.” Through this festival we heard common man’s voice from Kargil, Sajjad Hussain’s. He organised KFF in the district. For him a move like this helps to, “Connect people with the nation. The visit of directors, interaction with audience and movies on real issues let the nation know us and also let us know the nation,” he said.
Tough goes against the toughest
No peace initiative comes with comfort. It requires a little trouble and challenge. Since it was the first ever in the history of Kargil it was like, “Steering in the unknown territory,” Hussain said. “Once the event took off everyone from the locals to the government authorities showed support. The ministers smoothened the process of getting the venue booked, allowing tourism and offered hospitality to the guests of the organisers,” he added. For Alam the biggest challenge was lack of resources and Kargil’s geographical positioning. It took the team work for 3 years before putting up a thoughtful show in May 2012. The response for them had been overwhelming. The crowd outnumbered the seats available. “Even in Delhi people can hardly promise a 500 audience crowd for such a festival, but here it went beyond 1000,” he said.
Films away from war
One should not get confused that KFF was all about movies made on Kargil war. It was a unique blend of themes that covered India and its many challenges. Some films covered issues of displacement and flawed development, child labour and ecological degradation. Deliberately they picked films that focused public pain, rights and more. Rohit Joshi from Uttarakhand brought his film Indra Dhanush Udaan that captured the development measures in Himalayas because of which natural disasters have increased. He was grateful to the organisers for bringing this festival that brought him closer to Kargil, “Just to know the economy of the place I walked in popular areas, people are simple. Lots of bakeries, meat shops and Khubaani — dry fruit dotted the roads,” said Joshi.
Jharna Anurag Singh had come with her film Kosi Katha: Making of a Famine this film enlightened the people on how outdated damning techniques are playing havoc with our resources. “It is a festival for the people,” said she, and that’s why films on people’s rights. Meraj Siddiqui had gone from Delhi with his film Asha Ka Bachpan, a film that endorsed education for children. “Education is a universal issue through the festival we could bring it to Kargil and endorse the importance of education,” said Siddiqui. Alam signed off saying, “Is it justified to evaluate the place by a war?” Not really, because the war gets over but not the people and the place.