Saturday, January 23, 2016

Inshallah, Football (2010) - Review

Inshallah Football documents the struggle of an 18-year old aspiring Kashmiri footballer Basharat, who has been denied a passport because his father Bashir Baba is an ex-militant. When Bashar (as 'Basharat' is fondly addressed) was two months old, his father left home for Pakistan to train in a military camp.

Directed by Ashvin Kumar, the documentary's idea spawned from his acquaintance with an Argentinian-Brazilian couple (coach Juan Marcos and wife Priscilla) who, under their academy ISAT in Kashmir, trained young boys in football.  

Bashar gets picked by Marcos to play in Brazil but his passport gets rejected by the authorities.

The narrative interlaces the boy's story with the conflict in the region. Kumar bravely brings out the reality of Kashmir - the brutality of the Armed Forces on the civilians, of innocents being targeted, the travails of everyday life. These elements are neatly juxtaposed with the scenic beauty of the Valley, and the hope for a normal life in the region. 
The documentary highlights the aspirations of a new generation that dreams of a future which doesn't reek of or is influenced by its past.

A lot of back and forth happened with the Censor Board at the time of its release, political implications clearly influencing decision making. Post initial nod in October 2010, the documentary was rejected approval by a review committee in Mumbai. The second review committee banned the film altogether. On the third reviewing, the film was approved with an 'Adult' certificate. Interestingly, two years later, the film was given a National Award for the Best Film on Social Issues. Ironically incredible India!

Have you seen Inshallah Football? What did you think of it?

Here is a must-watch interview of the director I stumbled upon on Youtube. (His repertoire includes issue-based films like Inshallah, Kashmir (2012), The Forest (2012), award-winning short Little Terrorist (2004); Dazed in Doon (2001) & Road to Ladakh (2004). The interview is about the plight or rather the tragedy of how limited the vocabulary of cinema is perceived to be in India.

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