Harud (autumn)

Harud (autumn)

Freedom is not a matter of choice

Urdu/Hindi ( U/A)
Cast: Reza Naji, Shahanawaz Bhat, Shamim Basharat, Salma Ashai
Director: Aamir Bashir

When a film is designed to incite emotion, it adopts measures subtle and overt, to achieve its end. Aamir Bashir’s Harud is an unhurried narrative highlighting aimlessness, denial, joblessness and more than anything else – hopelessness of an entire generation upon whom has been thrust militancy and state repression. Making a bad situation wo­­rse is that neither wants to back off first or at all. 

What begins as the tale of a young man Tauqir, gone missing like hundreds of others in Jammu & Kashmir, and which act turns his entire family’s life topsy-turvy, actually addresses the larger issue of lives gone astray – sometimes through ill-gotten advice on terrorism which promises jannat or the Army’s presence which reminds you that freedom is not a matter of choice.  Rafiq, his younger brother (Shahnawaz Bhat who plays a lost youth with reticence) is told that militancy is the way out, but his attempt to cross over to Pakistan is thwarted and he returns dejected.

Since he cannot let go of the thought, his bag remains packed and the money he has received for the ‘mission’ safely kept aside. Meanwhile, Rafiq takes up odd jobs besides whiling away time with friends who harbour big dreams and all of whom treat living in the shadow of grenades and guns as a given.

Rafiq’s mother (Shamim Basharat) is in denial that Tauqir is gone and continues to lead a ‘normal’ life (‘why should I mourn unless I see his dead body’) while regularly attending meetings held by the Association of Missing Persons. On his part, Rafiq’s father Yusuf, played utterly convincingly by Reza Naji (first noticed in Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven), spirals towards insanity, unable to handle the stress.

Even as Rafiq fumbles his way to normalcy – pushed by his ‘terrorist friend’ who is now tired of terrorism because he realises, ‘ki ek baat toh pakki hai, jannat ka raasta Pakistan se hokar nahin jata’, Rafiq finds himself facing the Army’s bullet. 

Bashir’s placid direction gives you enough time to absorb the all-encompassing hopelessness and longing, while Shankar Raman’s handheld camera work is in sharp contrast to the narrative’s composed tenor. 

The agitation, aggression and latent violence in the images combined with National Award Winner Nakul Kamte’s exquisite sound design makes Harud a must watch, but only if you are used to world cinema. This one is not for the unadulterated Bollywood buff, unless he wants to grow up.

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