It’s ironical that a film that purports to tell the ‘untold story of Kashmir’ has hardly any story of its own to boast of.
The least you expect from a film on Kashmir is to stir you, shake you, rattle you or - at best - fill your heart with pathos over what’s being happening in the land once hailed as the paradise on earth. Sadly, Lamhaa does nothing of the sort. It’s a superficial, cursory glance at all the issues that blight Kashmir which is described in the film as a ‘company’ run and controlled by astute local leaders who play dirty politics in the name of Azadi, by powerbrokers remote controlled by ISI, by the militants who brainwash kids to fight the holy war, and by the army and police who are thrust with the butcher’s job of ensuring peace at gunpoint. In between these power-players, the avam of Kashmir that is ground as the grist in the mill everyday hardly finds a place in the movie by Rahul Dholakia. And that’s a pity.
In the first place, the movie doesn’t have any definitive story or plot to speak of. It appears that the writer and director decided to make a ‘serious, issue-based film’ and cobbled together a loose plot so that they can stitch in between all the issues they could find from newspaper headlines (sex racket expose, fake encounters, atrocities in police custody, and more). But in their zeal to tell everything quickly, they end up telling nothing convincingly. And Lamhaa ends up as a mere collage of different episodes, grave however they may be, that when put together look nothing more than a bunch of assorted plots glued back-to-back to give the semblance of a film with gravitas and depth and blah blah. Don’t know what you would call that. I call it hypocritical cinema.
For what else it is when the film’s protagonist walks through the streets of Kashmir with a rockstar’s swagger, cigarette in mouth, Ray Ban on perched on his nose, keffiyeh stylishly wrapped around his neck...and oh...metal guitar riffs grunging away in the background. That’s ‘serious and thought-provoking’ cinema for you.