Director: Aamir Bashir
Cast: Reza Naji, Shahnawaz Bhat, Shamim Basharat, Salma Ashai
One loves it when his/her life is being projected on screen in the form of cinema. S/he seem to be "emotionally connected" then. And when one makes a film inspired from the chunk of his life, that emotional dedication is palpable throughout. Such is the film Harud (Autumn) by Aamir Bashir who belongs to Kashmir where the film is being set.
Starts with a video tape showing protesters and police firings. And then thrown into a scene where 3 are trying to cross the border to become militants. Rafiq (Shahnawaz Bhat) is one of them who plays the protagonist and is rescued by his father Yusuf (Reza Naji), a traffic police, back to home. Follows what are some snail paced sequences that captures some beautiful, extensive landscapes of Kashmir (definitely not the way we see in Bollywood films) on a grainy template that induces desperation in viewers for a substantial story to surface. The director follows the minimalistic approach: minimal on background score but surreal sound design suffices the raw tonality, minimal on dialogues but some random conversations unravels the quest. Also some thoughtful symbolism are impregnated into the plot that takes a pounce on your mind. Nothing is being told directly. For instance, introduction of BSNL network for cellular services in Kashmir suggests the time in which the story is set. But is relatable with the condition of the place over years.
Rafiq is wandering aimlessly doing jobs like distributing newspapers while his friend wants to participate on a singing reality show. Until he finds out a vintage camera of his disappeared brother. Rafiq's mother, Fatima (Shamim Basharat) doesn't want to believe that his other son is dead and ends up attending the meetings of APDP (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons). Rafiq insists his mother to take him along at one such meeting after which he starts following a girl, Shaheen (Salma Ashai). Love interest? No. But a shocking climax. Subtle introduction of various characters forms composed layers of the tale only to leave you with some disturbing questions and unconnected dots. There happens to be some amateur performances but that's something you should overlook in this film.
As I said, cinema connects you emotionally when you see something straight out of your life in it. This makes me curious to know how did Kashmiris receive this movie. Though fictional, Rafiq could be any young boy there. Even if you are not moved on emotional grounds after watching this film, you will come out of the theater with something buzzing your mind. This one is definitely a rare film. Watch this to be a part of the rare intelligent audience!