Inshallah, Kashmir - two films, censorship and difficulties of making anti-establishment films in India

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by ashvinkumar on Monday, March 4, 2013

Film & Video

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Technical level


Watch national award winning Inshallah, football and its sequel Inshallah, Kashmir. These are two rare and controversial films on Kashmir, by Oscar nominated film maker Ashvin Kumar that offer a perspective on the ravages of conflict over the past twenty five years on ordinary people that the government of India doesn't like. Attend a Q&A about censorship and the difficulties of making anti-establishment films in India.


Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. Flicking his cigarette, Bashir gazes into the camera with eyes that have seen worlds shattered: “I was petrified that he would loose sanity, follow my footsteps and become a militant”. Bashir Baba, a much-wanted leader of the armed group Hizbul Mujahideen has given up the gun. When he left his home in Kashmir to join the training camps in Pakistan in the early 90’s, his son Basharat was two months old.Basharat Baba belongs to a new generation of Kashmiris. He has grown up under the shadow of a silent war. Yet, within it, football is his passion and fuel. For the past three years, another man of vital importance has made his presence felt in Basharat’s life. Marcos, an Argentinean/Brazilian national, and a FIFA accredited football coach by profession, is a most remarkable man who has made his home in this paradoxical land. Marcos aspires to breed world class players from Kashmir. Bridging great cultural distance, Marcos started a football academy called ISAT; and an exchange program to Brazil for his most talented players. Basharat is one of them, and his scholarship to play football in the land of legendary Pele is a possiblity that has fairy tale qualities for him. The irony of it is that Basharat has been denied a passport by the Government of India. His crime? That he was born the son of a militant. A deeply personal, moving narrative about father and son, the dreams of Kashmiri youth, stone pelters and the state of Indian democracy.


A sense of justice and desire for change.

Speaker bio

Tasveer (The Photo) – in development – feature – 2012/13 Inshallah, Kashmir – documentary, 81 min – 2012 Dazed in Doon - fiction, 55 min - 2010 Inshallah, Football – documentary, 83 min – 2010
 The Forest – feature fiction, 86 min – 2009
 Little Terrorist – live-action short, 15 min – 2005
 Road To Ladakh – fiction, 48 min – 2004 ASHVIN KUMAR - BIOGRAPHY The youngest Indian writer/director with an Academy Award Oscar® nomination, Ashvin is also the first Indian to be nominated at the European Film Academy with his film ‘Little Terrorist’ which has been part of official selections to over 130 film festivals, winning awards in 25 of them, including the British Academy of Film and Television (BAFTA) LA. Ashvin is presently developing a film called ‘Hype’, a hedonistic clash of youthful aspirations with society, culture seeped in tradition: a view of urban middle-classes of New Delhi, contemporary India in a critical time of its globalization. He is also writing a low-budget feature-film about Kashmir: ‘Tasveer’, a story of a ten-year old girl whose journey to find her ‘disappeared’ father results in her finding Kashmir. In addition, a storytelling project for ‘Kids in Conflict’, whose aim is to teach screenwriting and film-making to kids who have to live in war-zones, an attempt to humanize and understand the internal-wars raging in democratic India today.
Ashvin’s recent work ‘Inshallah Football’ ( ;, won India’s highest honor for cinema, The National Award for best social film, Asian Cinema Fund (Pusan) grant, special jury-mention at Dubai, Silver Conch at Mumbai, audience-award at Asiatic Film Mediale and best non-fiction and best editing at IDPA (Indian Documentary Producers Association). It was part of official-selections of Doc-Liepzig (film-makers as change-makers) and INPUT 2012, TV and Public Interest, Sydney. And in-competition at Pusan, Chicago, NYIFF, NJISACF film-festivals. The film is a feature documentary about a talented Kashmiri football player who’s dreams of training in Santos (Pele’s club) in Brazil are stymied by the Indian government’s refusal to give him a passport because his father was a militant (fighting against the Indian armed forces in the uprising in Kashmir in the ‘90s). Its sequel, ‘Inshallah Kashmir’ ( ; is culled from three hundred hours of rare footage shot in the conflict-zone of Kashmir while shooting Inshallah, football. This film reveals the scars of two decades of conflict through testimonies of over forty people whose families have been devastated by the conflict. In order to avoid censorship after his earlier films were banned/restrained from circulation (see below) Ashvin decided to bypass the Indian censor board and release Inshallah, Kashmir online and free-of-charge on 26th of January 2012, India's Republic Day. It received over forty-thousand views in less than a week. This film is yet to begin its film-festivals and release journey. ‘Dazed in Doon’, is a coming-of-age story about a boy with an active imagination trying to make sense of life at the ‘Eton’ of India, a British style boarding school called The Doon School. This film was a one-of-a-kind participatory project. Completed in four months, featuring a cast and crew of schoolboys who were trained on the job and worked in association with a professional film crew. Both Dazed in Doon (below) and Inshallah, football were banned/restrained from circulation by Doon School and the Indian censor board respectively (More on: His first fiction feature film, ‘The Forest’ ( is a thriller with an ecological message, a chilling tale of a man-eating leopard set in the jungles of North India. ‘The Forest’ was theatrically released in India in May 2012, and is being re-released in the Hindi language in September 2012. It also released in Brazil, Thailand and Greece. The film premiered at Cinequest, and was in official competitions at Montreal and Sitges, Spain. Ashvin’s first film was also his student film, ‘Road To Ladakh’ ( It starred Irrfan Khan (Spiderman/Namesake/Slumdog Millionaire) and Koel Purie. Ashvin dropped out of the London Film School to make this film. Having persuaded an international cast and crew to work free‐of‐cost, the course fee saved was his production budget. It resulted in an experience that he describes as his ‘real film-school’. Besides being nominated for an academy award, his second film, Little Terrorist, became the first short film to get a theatrical release in India. The success of ‘Little Terrorist’ is noted for kick-starting India’s now vibrant short-film movement.
Ashvin is a voting member of the European Film Academy and was a member of BAFTA while living in the UK. He served as a Jury member in the 2012 edition of the Osians Cinefan Film Festival, New Delhi. Ashvin began working as an actor and director in theatre and after a degree in Media and Communications at the University of London after which he founded one of the first digital post-production studios in India in 1996. Recently, Ashvin has been teaching ‘storytelling’ in filmmaking. ‘Story to Screen’ is a three‐day intensive filmmaking course that takes participants through the history and craft of cinema, mythologies, psychoanalysis; it is a practical approach to writing, directing and the work of bringing a story to screen. For more: