Incredibly, there is an entire village in Kashmir named Dardpora populated by widows of terrorists and militants. Last year, filmmaker Ashoke Pandit visited Dardpora to make a documentary Village Of Widows on the widows.
On the occasion of India's 64th year of Independence, the story of the women of this heartrending village would now be converted into a feature film. Real widows from Dardpora will be put through rigorous workshops to "play" militants' widows.
Real women will be sharing screen space with top-notch actresses playing widows. In addition, Pandit would sign one actress, Shabana Azmi, to play the most important widow of the village.
Says Pandit, "Apart from the pivotal role, I'd like majority of the widows to be played by new faces. There're so many talented stage actresses in this country waiting to express themselves on issues that go beyond entertainment."
To shoot on location in the volatile village of the damned and doomed would almost certainly create many practical problems for Pandit's vast cast and crew. But Pandit is determined to revisit Dardpora, this time to shoot a feature film after the documentary.
Says Pandit, "The visits to Dardpora and the documentary changed my life. Can you imagine, an entire village of widows, and that too the widows of extremists? What do they think in their frozen state of endless solitude? What life do they dream of in their eternal solitude? I captured a lot of their agony in the documentary. But I need to take the message further into a feature film. You see, sometimes dramatized reality is essential to convey the grim layered reality of the socio-political system."
Pandit's interest in the Kashmir issue dates back to his feature film Sheen in 2004 which Pandit had filmed under the shadow of terror threats. This time around as he looks at the life of widows who are isolated ostracized and punished for the crimes of their spouse, Pandit again faces attacks.
The feature film on the widows of Dardpora is being scripted by Vinta Nanda, to bring in a woman's perspective into the widow's tale.
Says Ashoke Pandit, "Isn't it tragic and ironical that after 64 years of Independence there exists a village of widows in Kashmir? After 64 years of independence our Prime Minister still addresses the nation covered by a bullet proof glass. Maximum security-threat on Independence Day. So are we really independent?
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