With no clearance from the Censor Board, award-winning film Kaafiron Ki Namaaz releases on YouTube. Catch it tomorrow
An army officer who has been court-martialled, a writer and a musician confess their secrets on a rainy Christmas Eve somewhere in Srinagar. What begins as a dramatic discussion in the room of an abandoned hotel soon turns into a chilling meeting that raises pertinent social questions. And thus, the plot of the critically-acclaimed movie, Kaafiron Ki Namaaz thickens.
Stills from Kaafiron Ki Namaaz, a psychological thriller set in Kashmir
Setting the film in the Valley, says director Ram Ramesh Sharma, was important because they needed a place full of irony, questions, promises and heartbreak, and Kashmir was the obvious choice. "It’s a gateway to heaven built on graveyards. From backdrop, it became a latent character in this human drama that carries shades of a thriller," he says.
The title captures the theme too. "Kaafir (kaafiron being its plural) refers to a non-believer while namaaz means prayer. Kaafiron Ki Namaaz literally means prayers of non-believers," he explains.
The two-hour, 29-minute film is the maiden production of filmmaker Bhargav Saikia’s Lorien Motion Pictures. However, while the film was still under production, the banner also produced an acclaimed short horror film, Awakenings.
Director Ram Ramesh Sharma
"We shot it in 2012 in Kashmir, and it took almost a year to complete post-production. The film was ready in June 2013. It participated at Film Bazaar Goa later that year and premiered at the Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea in May 2014 in the main international competition section," says Saikia. But bagging a theatrical release was a tough task.
"There were significant delays regarding censor certification, especially the title which hasn’t been cleared since 2011. The board also had a problem with certain scenes that make strong political comment. The producers’ association feels that the title is too sensitive. However, the film has been screened at festivals in Kolkata, Ladakh, Guwahati, Delhi and Mumbai to packed audiences, and most people have praised the title. We have had absolutely no complaint regarding the title till date," he adds.
Eventually, the makers decided going online was the way out.
"As producer, it’s tough for me to release the film for free on the Internet. However, after waiting for this long, it made sense that we release the film ourselves on a digital platform to ensure it reaches the audience without restrictions. Considering the independent nature of the film, it is important for us to give it the audience it deserves, and the web is perfect. I may not make money out of it, but I hope that the release will bring a respectable audience base to my production company and highlight the hard work all of us have put in," he signs off.