Harud (Autumn)

Release Date: July 27, 2012
Directed by: Aamir Bashir
Cast: Shahnawaz Bhat, Reza Naji, Shamim Basharat, Salma Ashai, Mudessir Ahmed Khan, Rayes Mohiuddin

The sudden disappearance of a family member, a suffocating existence, or a gut-wrenching feeling of helplessness. Either one of these could render us paralyzed in our lives with a void inside for a very long period of time. Rafique’s family has an unenviable fate of facing all of the aforementioned predicaments.

Rafique (Shahnawaz Bhat) lives with his small family in Kashmir. With limited resources and restricted choices, his friends – Ishaq (Mudessir Ahmed Khan) and Aslam (Rayes Mohiuddin) – and a major part of their generation make attempts to move out of their said misery to different parts of India. Rafique’s brother Tarique has disappeared, like thousands of other young men from Kashmir. The police and the powerful beings put up a doll face that never acknowledges these ground-breaking reports.

Ishaq wants to be a singing star and hopes to break into the scene by participating in a reality show, but fondly accepts “Vote kaun karega? Kashmir ki janta to election me bhi vote nahi karti.” (Who will vote for me? The citizens of Kashmir doesn’t even vote in the constituency elections.) Grappling with the hard realities of their respective positions, the trio hangs out at the local park playing football and dreaming about the bleak but charming possibilities of their strangled futures.

Rafique’s father, Yusuf (Reza Nazi of the “Children in Heaven” fame) is a traffic cop struggling with a feeling of being defenseless even in his uniformed demeanor, who’s still making an effort to help his son out by asking him to lead on with his life. Yusuf’s shell cracks when he watches a militant blow up in front of him, rendering him a mental condition. Rafique discovers his brother’s camera and gets his last photos printed and finds out a similar disappearance of a boy. That boy is Shaheen’s (Salma Ashai) brother. Rafique finds a mutual connect between the two of them and in lieu of stepping into his brother’s shoes: opts for a job at a photography studio.

A small glimmer of hope that arises out of strong will and innumerable hardships still somehow isn’t enough. Aamir Bashir creates a pathos on the tenterhooks of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act imposed in Kashmir by refusing to break into a monologue piercing the entire system. With a much realistic approach on emotions, camera angles and landscaping shots, producing a raw and biting picture of how vivid the conditions are in Kashmir. The film, due to the lack of a more engaging dialogue fails to keep up with the sluggish pace and some times, the profound symbolism gets lost in the bargain. At a few moments, invoking a sense of incoherence Harud isn’t your average run-off-the-mill joyride and took two years in the cans to see the light of the cinema projector.

Harud is a limited release and if you are patient enough for a moving scenery of a grave, deep-rooted problem with a no-nonsense approach, I strongly advise you to watch it while it does the rounds of the few cinema halls in your city.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)

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