Mumbai: The mainstream media has painted a wrong picture of Kashmiris, says National Award-winning filmmaker Ashvin Kumar, whose film "No Fathers In Kashmir" is set for release on Friday.
"Kashmiris are presented as anti-nationals as only pictures of stone-pelting youngsters are coming out. It is but obvious to assume that they are anti-nationals because they are throwing stones at the army. But do we really know how they are harassed every single day, just to live a normal life?" said Ashvin in an interview with IANS.
The filmmaker, son of veteran designer Ritu Kumar who has worked extensively with Kashmiri art and craft people, has some fond childhood memories of the picturesque valley where he used to visit his maternal grandfather, a Kashmiri.
As a result, he has observed both sides of Kashmir -- before and after insurgency -- closely.
"As a kid, I used to visit grandparents' house in Kashmir. The place was all about beauty, nature, the valley, the people, their warmth and the beautiful Kashmiri culture. Kashmir was a different place before 1989, when the insurgency engulfed it and everything was ruined.
"In 2009 when I went to Kashmir to make film 'Inshallah, Kashmir', I realised it was not at all the Kashmir where I spent summer vacations as a child. It was not the paradise anymore," said Ashvin.
He said the mainstream media is projecting an image of the common Kashmiri and the Kashmir itself in a way that is different from reality.
"On one hand, every now and then Kashmiris are disappearing from the daily life of Kashmir, on the other hand, the story of Kashmiris is disappearing from the mainstream media. We are just showing a caricaturish version of Kashmiris.
"Instead of showing how a 14-year-old boy is pelting stones and picking up the gun against army, why can't we think why is he not in school? Why does he not having a normal childhood? The reason behind the act of violence is not presented by the mainstream media," he said.
The death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016 changed a lot in the Valley.
Asked if the situation has got worse since then, Ashvin said: "In my documentary 'Inshallah, Football', I mentioned it clearly that if this generation of Kashmiris decides to pick up the gun, the consequences would be catastrophic'.
"In my next film 'Inshallah, Kashmir', I stated it again 'do not alienate these children, something dangerous will happen'. Then Burhan Wani happened (started gaining popularity among Kashmiri youths) and recently Pulwama (terror attack in J&K) happened.
"Basically, what we see today is the continuation of a situation where several generations are deprived of a normal childhood. Nothing has changed except the lack of compassion from the government to think about the common Kashmiris living in rural areas."
Ashvin's film "No Fathers In Kashmir" revolves around the story of a young Kashmiri girl who lives in the UK, and comes to Kashmir in search of her missing father.
The film features Soni Razdan, Anshuman Jha, Zara Webb, Shivam Raina and Kulbhushan Kharbanda in pivotal roles.