AARSHAD MUSHTAQ FINALLY succeeded to launch his film Akh Daleel Loolech in front of a packed audience at the Tagore Hall, Srinagar on 17 June. The film boasts to be the first digital movie of the Kashmir region produced after nearly four decades – the last regional film was Mehanzraat made in 1969.
As the film begins to unfold, the audience is mesmerized by the beauty of the film and is gripped by the conflicting reactions. There is a mystifying subtlety, variety of techniques and styles used in the film. To understand all that subtlety and catharsis one has to have an eye on the past and present situation. Although, Akh Daleel Loolech is set in the 19th century of the erstwhile maharaja rule, the title of the film does not suggest that the film is periodic in nature.
The film is set in 1887 and begins with the brutality of the maharaja rule. Then comes the usual love story. Poor guy falls in love with a jagirdar girl, followed by two-three songs, beautiful locations, and phantasmagoria and then back to the raj days.
Mushtaq is inspired by the provocative ideas of the society. And, as an artist he has tried to capture those ideas in the characters and moving pictures. The film has therefore developed a tension with which the director illustrates his ideas rather vehemently and sometimes rather obviously. Akh Daleel Loolech has utilized a poignant atmosphere where the retranslation of nostalgia and agony is represented in a naïve style. Every character in the film is searching for an identity and strength.
This film is a work of an artist who is confronted with half-baked, mixed feelings which was closet and couched in the unknown treasure cave. Itis a very simple story of immense nobility and idealism. Its contours are highlighted with the most precious philosophy of life to complete a picture, which is at once symmetrical and sublime, sweet and tender and yet with a core of strength and conviction that takes it beyond the conventional romantic musicals.
The director has taken pains to research on language, costumes, locations, music and lyrics. The characterization in the film is also brilliant. The love story is actually a subtle way to show the regressive rule of maharajas. The film transcends the boundaries and with every character you feel as if you are watching the past and weighing the present. There is not much of screaming, no attention seeking tactics, and, yet, the film gets our full attention.
The surge of love between two people belonging to entirely different strata is collected into a picturesque and quivering collage of brutality and melody. The dialogues are sharp and often defiant. Every encounter is charged with meaning. It is not a hard-core commercial film. It is predictable, meanders at times, but, it has turned out to be well made, historically more or less accurate, sober and politically progressive.
Of course, this does not mean it is flawless, cinematically or politically. The film actually looks clichéd at first place. This is the same director who gave us Su Yee …, a Kashmiri adaptation of Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot. He has tried to incorporate many things from that theater play. Wigs and makeup look quite jaded. By showing the protagonist in an English sartorial manner and playing violin, the director is not able to justify the gap of 120 years. It is beyond imagination that there would have been any Muslim jagirdar at the time of maharaja. The lead pair at times looks quite appalling especially during song sequences. Mir Sarver, the protagonist lacks the spontaneity and energy. The heroine of the film Madeeha Shah looks young enough to be the daughter of the hero! Tariq Javaid, another actor who is also one of the producers of the film, looks a parody of himself. Qazi Faiz looks menacingly stereotyped with the latest glasses on his eyes.
Tight editing would have given the film the much-needed impetus and especially to the fight scenes, which look hilarious. The exaggerated maudlin between characters could have been avoided. A little pruning would have done wonders to this film. The director has used too many low angle shots to compensate the short heights of the characters. He has also erred in shooting the whole film in autumn season. Even more jarring is the absence of Pandits and Dogra rulers, one of the main architects of the atrocities against the suppressed race. And, one did not expect the director to have credit roles in such an ordinary manner.
However, music by Raja Bilal is quite a revelation and the profound yet simple poetry of songs harmonises the melody of romance. He has got able support from cameraman Wahid Wani and Zafar Iqbal, both have beautified the rugged rural landscape without making it appear fairytale in proportion. Regardless of the fate, this film is bound to give impetus and delight to the academician of Kashir language. And, it is bold and a worthy movie that surely is a reason for a small celebration.