Documentary brings alive plight of Kashmiri Pandits

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Chandigarh, July 25 (IANS) Based on a diary that was found by BSF troopers in the torched house of a Kashmiri Pandit, a 25-minute documentary highlighting the community’s plight was screened here on Wednesday.

“Diary of a Kashmiri Pandit”, starring actress Deepti Bhatnagar, is an emotional excerpt from the diary of an unknown man who was caught in the crosshairs of the jihadi upsurge in the Kashmir Valley in 1990.

Written and produced by author-documentary maker Ashwini Bhatnagar, the film was entirely shot in Srinagar and effectively uses the ambience of a burnt down house to sensitively focus on the turmoil of a man facing brutal death at the hands of lynch mobs.

“It’s a narration of a diary which was found by the Border Security Force (BSF) from the burnt down house of a Kashmiri Pandit in 1990,” Bhatnagar, a former journalist, told IANS here.

“A whole gamut of emotions are captured in a series of riveting shots as the unknown Kashmiri Pandit readies himself for the worst while hoping for the best.

“Dipti Naval does not speak throughout the film but captures the emotions of a trapped man with great poise and overwhelming empathy,” he pointed out.

The film starts with the Pandit sending his family to Jammu as violence escalates in Srinagar. He has to remain in Srinagar because of his job and, in order to fill his vacant hours during prolonged spells of curfew, he starts writing a diary.

The film captures, in a heart-wrenching way, the various stages of isolation he experiences because of violence.

The corrosion in his morale, as long-standing social relationships suddenly snap, makes the film a unique human document in the times of sectarian strife.

“It reveals how violence alienates every single person from his surroundings and forces him into horrific mob mentality,” Bhatnagar, who has written seven books during the last three years, including biographies of top corporate leaders, said.

“The Pandit’s loneliness in his own homeland, bitterness over governmental inaction, confusion over the turn of events, fear for his life and, eventually, his last-ditch stand against terrorism is compellingly captured in the film,” he added.

In the end, the Pandit picks up the gauntlet and through an act of sheer heroism defies terrorists and re-stakes his claim over his homestead through his writings.

He is, however, eventually burnt alive by a rampaging mob, creating the most dramatic moment of the film. The scene lingers on in memory long after the film is over.

Kashmir expert and journalist R.C. Ganjoo is the Executive Producer, while Sushen Bhatnagar has directed the film.



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