New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) That the digital space has given a new lease of life to indie cinema in the country, is no secret. Now, to make the most of this increasingly popular platform, the makers of “Kaafiron Ki Namaaz”, a widely acclaimed Kashmir-set independent thriller, will release it online on April 7.
A Hindi, English and Kashmiri film, written and directed by Ram Ramesh Sharma, and produced by Bhargav Saikia under his independent film company Lorien Motion Pictures, the movie will release exclusively on the banner’s official YouTube channel.
Shot in the picturesque locales of Kashmir, “Kaafiron Ki Namaaz” is a movie well-known in indie film circuits.
It has been screened to critical acclaim and applause at various film festivals, including Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea, Ladakh International Film Festival (where it won four awards), Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival in Indonesia, Kolkata International Film Festival, and International Film Festival of Colombo in Sri Lanka.
But like many independent filmmakers, Saikia was facing roadblocks in releasing this debut project, which he and Sharma dropped out of film school in 2011 to make. The film was completed in June 2013.
Thereafter, once the film had garnered visibility at film fests, a few production companies had shown active interest in acquiring “Kaafiron Ki Namaaz” for a theatrical release, the producer shared.
“As time went by, there were significant issues and delays regarding censor certification of the film, especially the film’s title which hasn’t been cleared for certification, and also certain scenes in the film which make a strong political comment.”
“Kaafiron Ki Namaaz” centres around three people – an army man, a writer and a musician – who confess their most personal secrets to each other on a rainy Christmas Eve somewhere in Srinagar, Kashmir, while a fourth person, the writer’s camera assistant, stands as a mute spectator and records everything on his camera.
In the title, ‘Kaafir’ denotes impure and ‘namaaz’ denotes pure. Metaphorically, it symbolises the transformation of the film’s characters from a state of impurity to a state of purity as the narrative moves forward.
Saikia shared that “after a long wait, it made sense that we release the film ourselves on a digital platform to enable and ensure that it reaches out to the audience in its entirety and without any limitations”.
“Considering the independent nature of the film, it is more important for us to give the film the audience it deserves, and the digital medium is perfect for this purpose,” he added.
Sharma stressed on how “sometimes, for certain content, cutting the middleman out of the process is the best way to guarantee a large audience”.
“It allows a better engagement. A direct one. With no pressure of censor, screen count and distribution model, your vision gets communicated like the way you intended it to be,” he told IANS.
Songs for the film have been sung by popular playback singers like Suhkhwinder Singh, Usha Uthup, Javed Ali, Najim Arshad, Harshdeep Kaur and Kshitij Tarey.