There have been many cases in the recent years when a film kept lying in the cans for a long span of time due to either censor issues or distribution hassles in absence of a known cast, production house or a commercially viable subject. But producer Bhargav Saikia along with his director Ram Ramesh Sharma, has decided to take a revolutionary step in Indian Independent Cinema by moving ahead of any censor submissions, title registrations or exhibitors exploitation and releasing their widely appreciated film directly on the digital platform of Youtube.
‘Kaafiron Ki Namaaz’, as they decided to call it, is a much acclaimed independent drama/thriller set in Kashmir with a mix of Hindi, English and Kashmiri languages as per its theme. Made under the banner of independent film company Lorien Motion Pictures, it revolves around three characters- an army man, a writer and a musician - who confess their personal secrets on a Christmas Eve in Srinagar, Kashmir, while the assistant of the writer (the fourth character) keeps recording their conversations as a mute spectator from his camera. What begins as a dramatic discussion in that abandoned hotel soon turns into a fiery meet raising some pertinent issues with arguments and counter arguments given aggressively. And that’s what forms the basic structure of the film which led to denial of a censor certificate by the authorities.
Featuring Alok Chaturvedi, Chandrahas Tiwari and Megh Pant in the lead roles, the makers have also released its complete soundtrack as a jukebox at youtube having four original songs penned by the director Ram Ramesh Sharma himself with music by Advait Nemlekar. Sung by reputed singers, the credits include names of Suhkhwinder Singh, Usha Uthup, Javed Ali, Najim Arshad, Harshdeep Kaur and Kshitij Tarey. Plus as revealed by the team, veteran playback singer, Sukhwinder Singh, didn’t charge even a rupee from them impressed by the song itself.
Shot in picturesque locations of Kashmir back in 2012, the film was complete by the next year and then got featured in various film festivals earning wide appreciation & critical acclaim. Apart from the Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea, ‘Kaafiron Ki Namaaz’ was also screened at Ladakh International Film Festival, International Film Festival of Colombo (Sri Lanka), Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival (Indonesia), Kolkata International Film Festival and Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in Australia. Winning 4 top honours at Ladakh festival of Best Feature Film, Best Debut Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor, the film was loved and highly praised for its gripping narration by the jury headed by veteran filmmaker, Mr. Govind Nihalani.
However, with the time passing by a theatrical release was not becoming possible for the film due to several road blocks beginning with the title clearance refused by the producer’s association and then significant issues conveyed by the censors referring to the strong political comments made in its dialogues other than the sensitive title.
Dealing with such serious, unexpected hurdles, the makers began private screenings of the film in Kolkata, Guwahati, Delhi and Mumbai receiving all praises but no objections or concerns raised for either the content or the title by anyone. Gaining the much needed confidence from the same, producer Bhargav Saikia decided to take the rebellious step and prepared himself and his team for a ‘surprising’ digital release reaching straight to their end-users cutting out every middleman involved in the process.
According to Saikia, “I may not make any money out of it, but I hope that this release will bring a respectable audience base for the film and also highlight the hard work of all the creative professionals associated with it.”
And in the words of director Ram Ramesh Sharma, “With no pressure of censor, screen count and distribution model, your vision gets communicated like the way you intended it to be.”
Coming back to the controversial title, it metaphorically uses ‘Kaafir’ for impure and ‘Namaaz’ for pure – symbolizing the journey of its characters from a state of impurity to purity.
The official trailer of the film was released a few weeks back at all social networks getting wide acceptability creating the right buzz and the film is scheduled to be released on 7th April, in a morning show on your desktops, laptops, phones and tabs at Youtube.