Half Widow: Not Pakistan, not India, but the world through Kashmir’s eyes
Throughout history, cinema has functioned as a voice against oppression. Be it films such as Mississippi Burning or Fruitvale Station that highlight racism in the US’ past and present, or films such as Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful which focus on the Holocaust and the oppression of Jews during World War II. The Battle of Algiers is yet another movie which focuses on the oppression of the Algerian people by the French, and their subsequent struggle for independence.
Cinema has always played an important role in connecting the viewer with these moving stories.
Kashmiri filmmaker Danish Renzu aims to do something similar with his latest film, Half Widow. Though he doesn’t have the same level of financing, distribution or exposure most films and their filmmakers have, his focus revolves around relating an important story about human pain, humanity and most importantly, Kashmir.
The story in question is about Kashmiri women whose husbands have disappeared at the hands of the Indian government forces between 1989 and 2006. The number, which is anywhere around 8,000 and 10,000, consists of Kashmiris, many of whom were part of a militant uprising against Indian oppression. However, the majority of these Kashmiris had no connection with armed opposition groups.
And perhaps the saddest aspect about this story is that it’s the women who are the silent sufferers and the term ‘half widow’ is used for them because they still have no idea whether their husbands are dead or alive.
It will be interesting to see how the subject matter is handled. More importantly, I’m intrigued to see how the movie portrays a Kashmiri perspective rather than a Pakistani or an Indian one. The conflict in Kashmir has always had a profound impact on Kashmiris and its high time their stories made it to the big screen and their artists got the same respect and recognition other artists usually get.
Renzu, who was born in Srinagar but received his education from the University of California, is extremely interested in bringing Kashmiri stories to the big screen. He has already produced several short films about social acceptance such as In Search of America, Inshallah and The Virtual. Half Widow will be his feature film debut. He is already working on two more films, Pashmina, which also focuses on a Kashmir-based narrative, and The Illegal.
Renzu has also been focusing on recruiting Kashmiri talent for the film, which may give it more of an authentic feel. His entire cast and crew comprises mainly of Kashmiri artists.
The film does not have a release date as yet, but it is supposed to come out sometime in 2017, with the filmmakers eyeing an international premiere in the US.
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