They play with everyone — the children, the women, the men, whole families, and the army men in their service. They decide whom to call culprits and whom to grant the qualification of martyrdom. While successfully manipulating the minds against each other, it is the innocent children they have been unable to target — at least for a certain time, till a certain age. Hamid, a 7-year-old Kashmiri boy, takes us on a small journey and allows us to witness a small episode of the lives in the occupied land.
Hamid, directed by Aijaz Khan, is an adaptation of the play Phone No. 786 by Mohammad Amin Bhat. Starring Talha Arshad Reshi, Rasika Dugal, and Vikas Kumar in leading roles, the movie is a tiny glimpse of lives and occurrences in Kashmir through the eyes of a seven-year-old protagonist. Threads of political discourse, honor killings, stone-pelting, and martyrdom have been so intricately woven together that one can’t help but simply marvel at the mastered storytelling. None of the sides have been given representation over the other; however, their voices have been deafeningly clear.
Like millions, Hamid’s father, Rehmat, doesn’t return home one night. It’s been a year, and there’s neither certainty, nor hope. On learning that his father has gone to Allah, Hamid goes on a desperate search for Allah’s number. Incidents, so pure and innocently funny, leads him to the phone number of a CRPF officer, Abhay, a hot-headed “enemy”. Hamid mistakes him for God and begs him to send his father back to him. Gradually Abhay agrees and builds an on-call relationship with the child, in whom he perceives the spirit of his 8-month-old daughter.
Abhay hasn’t had leave for two years and has not even met his daughter or even witnessed her birth. An army officer posted on duty in the occupied land — to quell the so-referred “terrorists” and in turn, being himself curbed and caged by the powerful. He too carries the guilt of killing innocents — children — which he consequently blames on the “aatankwaadis” who, according to what he has been manipulated to believe, use their own kind to shield themselves and their actions.
“Bachchon ke usoolon pe duniya chalti toh Jannat bann gayi hoti.”
Ishrat, Hamid’s mother, continuously visits the local police station in hopes of finding some clue of her husband’s whereabouts. She is the emblem of Kashmiri women. Whilst toiling hard to make both ends meet, she gets distant from her only son, and from her own self too. The silver lining seems unapproachable, and even after being the resident of a “symbolic paradise”, the beautiful natural surroundings appear suffocating rather than liberating.
Hamid is quite a short movie and possesses no overdramatic plotline. It’s a simple visual representation from the perspective of a boy who is not able to comprehend the meaning of “death”. The film runs smoothly throughout and has no such tear-jerking scenes. It provokes emotions, yes, but in a way subject to larger absorption of the events.
At one point, Abhay was so deeply moved by the child’s yearning for his parent that despite knowing the consequences in hindsight, he tries his futile luck to enquire about Rehmat’s location. He receives backlash and is even accused to be involved in an affair. This throws light on the fact that the people in power, don’t pardon even their own civil servants, and leave no stone unturned to assert dominance and quell others’ perceptions.
Eventually, Hamid is introduced to the real identity of the entity on the other side of the call. He exclaims, “Aap hamaare dushmann ho?!” to which Abhay replies, “Haan. Aur tum mere.”
Even after realizing their role in the bigger picture, the officers can’t help but continue with their “duty”. Not all are sincere; not all are evil either. Meanwhile, the residents beg, shout, march for “Azaadi” — some yearn to escape to the “other side of the mountains”, while others remain resolute in their goal to achieve freedom from the occupation of both sides. The viewers are made to face overwhelming emotions of despair, guilt, anger, innocence, helplessness, and finally, a tiny glimmer of hope.
Non-inclusive of any symbolic heroism or war or riot, this Bollywood work offers a non-biased, raw, honest peek. As non-Kashmiri residents, Hamid is a reminder that there is a disturbance, in our own land, and we need to care about our people, much more than we presently attempt to.
Zaina Shahid Khan is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Reda Aamna
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.