New Kashmir Song: Old Narrative Dressed in Devotional Apparels
Asif Khan is a masters graduate in Mass Communication from…
At a time when the second wave of the COVID-19 has enforced another lockdown in Kashmir, Bollywood continues its dream voyage in the restricted valley.
‘Naya Kashmir’ witnessed an old reality with the resurgence of Bollywood this year.
Many big banners beckoned by both North Block and Raj Bhavan arrived in droves to invest in the picturesque valley, where a number of albums and films were shot.
This Bollywoodisation of Kashmir has only grown in the holy month of Ramadan, with the arrival of a new cast and crew.
Among the latest entrants is the well-known music composer duo of Salim-Sulaiman, coming together to bring new Nasheed, ‘Jazaak Allah’.
Javed Ali—the singer who previously sang some soulful AR Rehman compositions—cuts a dash singing the beautiful lyrics of Jazaak Allah written by Irfan Sidiq.
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Shot entirely in Kashmir, Jazaak Allah appears in the establishing aerial shot of Jamia Masjid till Salim sings it and we see him in the medium shot frame. The light entering from the window, at the back of Salim, represents divinity and hope.
The video celebrates the spirit of humanity, to offer a helping hand to those in need of help. It also emphasizes that together we can overcome trials and tribulations: ‘Mushkil Ke Jo Pal Mai Koi Duaon Ka De Silla, Toh Dil Bolay Jazaak Allah’ (In these testing times, answer our prayers, so that our hearts say: Jazaak Allah).
This Nasheed comes as a dedication to the healthcare workers working round the clock to save precious lives and to the volunteers trying to help the distressed families in these hard times.
The track reflects the testing times we live in, and gives a message to cast aside differences and help one another amid the ongoing pandemic.
The story has been shown through the character of a kind fruitseller, whose earnings do not suffice his family needs and thus, is helped by the duo of Salim Merchant and Javed Ali, who appear as actors as well as singers throughout the video.
Salim is witness to the kind act of the fruitseller when he gives a free banana to a young boy who doesn’t have money to purchase it.
Seeing him not being able to buy essentials for his family, both the singers in the video decide to help him by taking the required edibles to his home, thus sending across a humanitarian message.
The entire video is shot between the three main holy sites of Srinagar- Jamia Masjid, Khankah and Hazratbal.
The duo of Javed Ali and Salim Merchant has done a commendable job with their part but, the camera work for such a video is surely not up to the mark. It shakes too many times at the Hazratbal scene; one even feels that the place hasn’t been explored to its full potential.
Salim’s scene in Jamia Masjid again looks flawed as it connects to another scene where many people could be seen praying.
The two shots break and look as if the two different shots have been knotted together, thus, raising strong queries over the editing of the video.
It looks as if the makers wanted to depict what is called the Kuleshov effect. However, in the modern era, it remains a weak link to the video.
The aerial shots are decent but, a lot could have been still done especially when one is capturing the three main historic sites of Srinagar.
The lyrics ‘Niyat Se Juda Rehmat Ka Rasta’ (with intentions are the roads of blessings connected) clearly sums up the essence of this Nasheed.
Howbeit, taking a look at the time it is shot, it comes within the chain of those pieces shot in the valley post abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Thus, one may start doubting the intentions behind the fresh initiative of shooting in the valley.
The suffering caused by COVID-19 may have given impetus to this venture but it again reinstates the fact that Bollywood is sensitive to the pain and suffering of Indians only.
It takes the suffering of Indians for Bollywood to realize that they need to express solidarity with them. But the story is radically different when contextualized for Kashmir.
This disconnection besides being discriminatory is violent in nature, because it remains numb to the local grief while using the same canvas for painting its own pain.
Again, Kashmir has been used merely for its beauty. The classification of pain and suffering which Bollywood has been religiously following and propagating is the root cause of the entire problem.
It’s also noteworthy that amid such a devastating situation in India, was it necessary to travel and shoot in Kashmir?
The Nasheed is dedicated to the frontline workers who have been urging people to stay at home but, shooting with an entire crew definitely signifies something else.
People may laud the makers however; the timing of this video compels us to see it as one among the other hands out there symbolizing Bollywood’s old narrative, this time dressed in devotional apparels.
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Asif Khan is a masters graduate in Mass Communication from the University of Kashmir.