Srinagar, Jan 5: A Kashmir filmmaker Arif Bashir has achieved international acclaim by winning the Swedish Academy of Motion Picture Award (SAMPA) in the short film category for his film Kasheer Kaete’ (Where is Kashmir).
SAMPA is a prestigious and internationally renowned film festival based in the beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden. SAMPA is dedicated to celebrating the art and craft of filmmaking, bringing together filmmakers, industry professionals, and cinema enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. Over the years, it has evolved into a multifaceted event, encompassing various elements of the cinematic experience. SAMPA not only serves as a stage for recognising cinematic excellence but also as a platform for industry networking, artistic exploration, and cultural exchange.
“It is always great to find appreciation for your films and your art works at prestigious global forums. I believe that film makers of Kashmir have the potential to tell and showcase their stories at global forums,” Bashir told Greater Kashmir.
But this award is a milestone for him. “I am aiming for Cannes and Sundance like festivals,” he says, giving credit for the success of his film to his “great team.”
Hailing from the picturesque Tangmarg area of north Kashmir, Bashir was inspired to make the film from his personal experiences. He did his Masters in Mass Communication and Journalism from University of Kashmir. In pursuit to hone his skills, Bashir did many courses in script writing, film and TV production.
He made his debut film 'Kasheer Kaete’ endeavoring to “document the real and the imaginary, the harsh and the subtle, the substantial as well as nuanced realities of Kashmir, all seen through the eyes and lived experiences of a child.”
“With an eye for detail, sensitivity toward humanitarian issues, and without falling into the trap of propaganda in any manner, I presented my homeland as a place in search of peace,” Bashir says.
Bashir set his film in his native village based on an actual incident from his life. “This has added an emotional as well as nostalgic angle to every creative decision in the making of the film.”
Kasheer Kaete is based on the emotions of children. The film has been woven from the perspective of Adnan, a young boy of a lower middle-class family who faces challenges while buying a birthday cake for his blind sister.
The crew behind the project features Arif Bashir as writer and director, Sukant Panigrahi as producer and production designer, Viraj Singh Gohil as the cinematographer, Vijai Shankar as the editor, Ankit Mehrotra as the associate director while Sina Slav has given the background score.
“Sukant and Viraj are both award-winning artists, professionals and now life-long friends,” Bashir says.
The duo has over 40 years of combined experience in the film industry. “Their long standing dream to make films of their own has finally come to fruition by way of their production house Gifted Images, bringing together their passion for visual storytelling and meaningful filmmaking.”
As established technicians within the industry, they have collaborated successfully with several directors around the world. Over the course of their travels both have encountered fascinating people and places.
Bashir says 'Gifted Images' was born of this intention to share stories of the people of the world. The duo was in hunt for those who share their outlook and passion for storytelling, but might not have the resources to create the films that they envision.
This intention came to become a reality in Kashier Kaitey, where Sukant and Viraj brought their respective crafts to collaborate with Bashir.
“It was exciting to work with Arif,” Viraj told Greater Kashmir. He has been visiting Kashmir especially for snowboarding for the past over a decade. He also shot a music video in the valley.
“When I met Arif, he narrated many stories but one of these excited me. We didn’t have a big producer or a production house, but were just a group of aspirants who wanted to do something,” he said.
Then the hunt for artists and locations started. “We did extensive auditions of several children. But we selected children from his village as they were natural. It is difficult to act for children who are from a village and usually don’t go to school and cycle. But Adnan, one of the main characters, had immense talent,” Viraj added.
Viraj has shot the famous music director AR Rahman’s documentary, Harmony, and has been working in films and image making for over 20 years. “I have become a fan of Kashmir’s natural beauty, culture and people. I would love to shoot more films in Kashmir.”
Associate Director Ankit Mehrotra said, it was a new experience for him to work with non-actors in Tangmarg village. “It was my first project in Kashmir and there was good enthusiasm. We lived in the village, relishing delicious traditional food with them and shooting the film. Credit goes to Arif for the success of the project. It is a proud moment for us to win the prestigious award,” he said.