Documentary channel

Why the 2007 Kashmir documentary ‘Jashn-e-Azadi’ needs to be watched again in 2016

Made nearly a decade ago, Sanjay Kak’s film is grimly prescient about the new phase of militancy in Kashmir.

Sanjay Kak’s documentary Jashn-e-Azadi was completed in 2007. The film on Kashmir’s long “intifada” came under fire from rightwing groups. In Mumbai, the police cracked down on public screenings on the grounds that it did not have the clearance of the Central Board of Film Certification. Over the years, the film has been screened at cultural centres and festivals aimed at promoting free speech. Jashn-e-Azadi has finally seen its official web release through the ezine Raiot, at the end of a harrowing week in Kashmir where protests were put down by force and newspapers silenced.

Play
‘Jashn-e-Azadi’.

In 2007, the Valley was recovering from the wave of militancy that started in 1989, peaked in the mid-1990s and was winding down by the early 2000s. Burhan Wani had not yet left to become a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, gather a fan following on the internet and become a local legend. His death had not yet pitched Kashmir into a new cycle of violence.

Yet, the 2007 film is grimly prescient. You hear the same words that would fashion a new phase of militancy in the Valley – 500 years of “zulm” or oppression under various “occupiers” and the “shahadat” or martyrdom of the few who took on the Army and the government. It is as if the Valley were fated for this new turbulence, as if the passions of a decade had been building up towards this denouement. It is hard to watch the documentary today as Kashmir revives its tragic romance with azadi. The same words are repeated, the same slogans break out again.

The tragedy is folded into the title itself, Jashn-e- Azadi, or “How We Celebrate Freedom”. As the documentary explains, azadi in the Valley is the object of eternal yearning, an ideal state that will come “one day”. Perhaps it is political freedom or perhaps it is “jannat”, the paradise promised to martyrs. Either way, it is always an absence.

This longing has spawned its own songs and slogans. Kak dwells on satirical sketches performed by Kashmir’s folk performers known as bhands, street marches where hundreds of fists are pumped in the air, and the insistent beat of “Hum kya chahte? Azadi.” These have elements of the carnivalesque.

But the carnivalesque is also found in an extravagance of grief. Kak’s camera travels over snow piling upon snow in a martyrs’ graveyard, where a father cannot find his son’s grave anymore. It stops at an old man counting the dead from his village and follows fires spreading wantonly across settlements, laying waste to scores of houses.

Grief lies in dirges sung for militants pledged to death, in the poetry of Agha Shahid Ali and Zarif Ahmed Zarif, in the constant fight against forgetting, in the horrors that patients at a psychiatric hospital cannot forget. This, the documentary seems to tell you, is how Kashmiris celebrate freedom.

This is a non-linear documentary, not particularly troubled by chronology, throwing up bits of journalistic detail only to have them melt away. How many dead, how many disappeared, what exactly happened? We may never know.

Ashvin Kumar’s Inshallah, Kashmir (2012), the other documentary that has shaped conversations on the Valley, is more deliberate in its storytelling, following specific cases and gathering evidence to build a picture of human rights violations. Kak seems more concerned with how things are felt to happen, with the ironies that emerge when one image is set against another.

Play
‘Inshallah, Kashmir’.

In Jashn-e- Azadi, footage from 2003 of unmarked graves still fresh on the ground is interrupted by grainy shots taken in the 1990s of militants training with guns, bodies on stretchers and crowds gathered outside mosques. The scene shifts to 2005, when a layer of dust has formed over old memories. The camera moves, fugue-like, through the years – 2003, 2007, 1991, 1992, 1993, 2004. It could have kept going into 2008, 2010, 2016.

If there is a story, it lies in the polemical energy of the images – the stillness of the Dal Lake, worshippers floating into a mosque, red chillies near the scene of an encounter, militants cresting a hill, the expressions on the faces of Kashmiri villagers rounded up by the army for a lecture on development.

Azadi, that eternal absence, is suggested in a dirge-like repetition of images. This repetition also seems to mimic the pattern of Kashmir’s history. Kak returns again and again to Lal Chowk on August 15, for instance, where police and army attend a flag hoisting ceremony every year. On Independence Day in 2004, guns peer out of windows and armoured vehicles rumble down the street. In the background, there are patriotic songs about that other azadi, won in 1947. It is a bleak celebration.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What’s the difference between ‘a’ washing machine and a ‘great’ washing machine?

The right machine can save water, power consumption, time, energy and your clothes from damage.

In 2010, Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician, convinced a room full of people that the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution. In the TED talk delivered by him, he illuminates how the washing machine freed women from doing hours of labour intensive laundry, giving them the time to read books and eventually join the labour force. Rosling’s argument rings true even today as it is difficult to deny the significance of the washing machine in our everyday lives.

For many households, buying a washing machine is a sizable investment. Oddly, buyers underestimate the importance of the decision-making process while buying one and don’t research the purchase as much as they would for a television or refrigerator. Most buyers limit their buying criteria to type, size and price of the washing machine.

Visible technological advancements can be seen all around us, making it fair to expect a lot more from household appliances, especially washing machines. Here are a few features to expect and look out for before investing in a washing machine:

Cover your basics

Do you wash your towels every day? How frequently do you do your laundry? Are you okay with a bit of manual intervention during the wash cycle? These questions will help filter the basic type of washing machine you need. The semi-automatics require manual intervention to move clothes from the washing tub to the drying tub and are priced lower than a fully-automatic. A fully-automatic comes in two types: front load and top load. Front loading machines use less water by rotating the inner drum and using gravity to move the clothes through water.

Size matters

The size or the capacity of the machine is directly proportional to the consumption of electricity. The right machine capacity depends on the daily requirement of the household. For instance, for couples or individuals, a 6kg capacity would be adequate whereas a family of four might need an 8 kg or bigger capacity for their laundry needs. This is an important factor to consider since the wrong decision can consume an unnecessary amount of electricity.

Machine intelligence that helps save time

In situations when time works against you and your laundry, features of a well-designed washing machine can come to rescue. There are programmes for urgent laundry needs that provide clean laundry in a super quick 15 to 30 minutes’ cycle; a time delay feature that can assist you to start the laundry at a desired time etc. Many of these features dispel the notion that longer wash cycles mean cleaner clothes. In fact, some washing machines come with pre-activated wash cycles that offer shortest wash cycles across all programmes without compromising on cleanliness.

The green quotient

Despite the conveniences washing machines offer, many of them also consume a substantial amount of electricity and water. By paying close attention to performance features, it’s possible to find washing machines that use less water and energy. For example, there are machines which can adjust the levels of water used based on the size of the load. The reduced water usage, in turn, helps reduce the usage of electricity. Further, machines that promise a silent, no-vibration wash don’t just reduce noise – they are also more efficient as they are designed to work with less friction, thus reducing the energy consumed.

Customisable washing modes

Crushed dresses, out-of-shape shirts and shrunken sweaters are stuff of laundry nightmares. Most of us would rather take out the time to hand wash our expensive items of clothing rather than trusting the washing machine. To get the dirt out of clothes, washing machines use speed to first agitate the clothes and spin the water out of them, a process that takes a toll on the fabric. Fortunately, advanced machines come equipped with washing modes that control speed and water temperature depending on the fabric. While jeans and towels can endure a high-speed tumble and spin action, delicate fabrics like silk need a gentler wash at low speeds. Some machines also have a monsoon mode. This is an India specific mode that gives clothes a hot rinse and spin to reduce drying time during monsoons. A super clean mode will use hot water to clean the clothes deeply.

Washing machines have come a long way, from a wooden drum powered by motor to high-tech machines that come equipped with automatic washing modes. Bosch washing machines include all the above-mentioned features and provide damage free laundry in an energy efficient way. With 32 different washing modes, Bosch washing machines can create custom wash cycles for different types of laundry, be it lightly soiled linens, or stained woollens. The ActiveWater feature in Bosch washing machines senses the laundry load and optimises the usage of water and electricity. Its EcoSilentDrive motor draws energy from a permanent magnet, thereby saving energy and giving a silent wash. The fear of expensive clothes being wringed to shapelessness in a washing machine is a common one. The video below explains how Bosch’s unique VarioDrumTM technology achieves damage free laundry.

Play

To start your search for the perfect washing machine, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Bosch and not by the Scroll editorial team.