When debutant director Rajat Kazmi submitted his hard-hitting treatise on the unrest in the Kashmir Valley for censoring, he expected plenty of trouble over the volatile subject and candid dialogues about the State of siege. Instead he was told that the film would have to be viewed by a Muslim individual to ensure the religious references were current.
Kazmi who is a Kashmiri Muslim found the precondition strange. “I knew what I was talking about in Identity Card. The issue of Kashmiri militancy and how brutally it affects local Kashmiri civilians is very close to my heart. So when after the censor panel viewed my film I was told it would have to be viewed by a Muslim, I was confused.”
Finally though, Kazmi whose gripping film releases this week heaved a sigh of relief, as only two cuts were ordered and the film was passed with a ‘UA’ certification. “At one place the word ‘Muslim’ was muted. Another dialogue where a character blames Muslims for the political condition of Kashmir was also muted. But what I considered to be real volatile points were not touched. In fact the censor board didn’t even look at those points in the narrative which I thought to be really tense.”
Rahat Kazmi had to go through hell to make this feature about a wounded paradise. “We shot on an extremely meagre budget in Kashmir. We couldn’t afford to stay in a hotel, so we stayed on the homes of local Kashmiri population.”
Rahat says everyone opened their hearts and home for his crew. “We were welcomed with open arms. We had absolutely no hassles shooting in Kashmir. And not a single actor charged us a single penny. Whether it was Sourabh Shukla, Arvinda Kala, Vipin Sharma, Raghuveer Yadav, Prashanth Kumar or Tia Bajpai… everyone forfeited his or fee. Somewhere, everyone believed we were making an important statement on Kashmir. The message had to reach far and wide.”
Rahat has a special word of thanks for Sourabh Shukla. “He not only contributed immensely as an actor he also helped with the screenplay and dialogues. Whenever we were stuck during shooting with the lines, Sourabhji bailed us out. He also helped us re-write the complicated climax.”
Rahat hopes Identity Card would reveal some of the truth about Kashmir’s militancy to people outside Kashmir. The filmmaker has already shot his second feature film. Entitled Ek Sarkaari Jooti it’s a comment on the socio-political status of the Indian Muslim starring Furqan Merchant and Rahuveer Yadav, both of whom also feature in the distinguished cast of Identity Card.