“Akh Daleel Loolech was a really fun and a different experience"
Audiences enjoy watching thought-provoking Kashmiri films made in the Indian administered region of Jammu and Kashmir.
The sheer beauty of the region reflected in Kashmiri films has certainly become an attraction for movie lovers.
Hence, it is not surprising that the Indo-Persian Sufi singer, Amir Khusrao once described Kashmir with the utmost beautiful poetic line:
“Gar firdaus bar rue Zameen ast/hameen asto, hameen asto, hameen ast.” (If there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here).
Kashmiri in context of the films can relate to the people, the languages and locations of the region.
The evolution of Kashmiri films went from a slowish start to gaining more popularity from the 2010 decade and onwards.
Despite, focusing on the warn-torn elements, Kashmiri films do also touch on the local culture and cover a variety of genres.
It is also very encouraging to see many local filmmakers behind the making of contemporary Kashmiri films. This includes the likes of Hussein Khan and Rahat Kazmi.
Here are 15 phenomenal Kashmiri films, linked to Kashmir that everyone should watch.
Mainz Raat (1964)
Mainz Raat was the first-ever independent Kashmiri feature-length film. The black and white film was made in the Kashmiri language.
Mainz Raat means ‘Mehndi Raat’ or ‘Henna Night’ in English. Jagi Rampal took the director’s chair for this film, with MR Seth being the producer.
The film had a “galaxy of new stars” including Mukta and Omkar Nath Aima. Pran Kishore Kaul, Som Nath Sadhu, Shaheen Afroz and Pushkar Bhan were the co-stars in the film.
The shooting of the film took place in Kashmir itself. The film is a family drama, with a love triangle to it.
Many will remember the film for its Kashmiri songs, including folk. GT Santosh was the lyricist, with the legendary Mohan Lal Aima taking responsibility for the music.
It was the opening night screening at the 2017 Kashmir World Film Festival (KWFF). The film went on to receive the 1962 President’s Silver Medal.
Shayar-e-Kashmir Mahjoor (1972)
Shayar-e-Kashmir Mahjoor is one of the most iconic Kashmiri films. The biographical drama was directed by Bengali filmmaker Prabhat Mukherjee.
The film is based on Kashmiri poet Peerzada Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor. Indian actor Parikshit Sahni plays the lead title character.
Parikshit’s real-life dad, Balraj Sahni plays his father. Parikshit was credited as Ajay Sahni in the film. Pran Srikand and Mohammad Yousaf Qureshi also starred in the film.
This Kashmiri-Urdu film was a collaboration between Prabhat and the Information Department of Jammu and Kashmir. The film was made at a cost of 10 lakh rupees.
Mohan Lal was the composer for the Kashmiri version, with Prem Dhawan being the music director of the Urdu dubbed film.
Bub is one of the most decorated Kashmiri films. Helmed by Jyoti Sarup, this was the third film made in the Kashmiri language.
The film takes inspiration from the Wandhama Massacre, focusing on members of a Kashmiri family that were murdered.
This was the first Kashmiri film, following a four-decade period. Luv Puri from The Hindu writes about the narrative of the film, stating:
“A film which describes the pain of a Kashmiri boy who lost his parents in the 1999 Wandhama carnage, which claimed the lives of several Kashmiri Pandits.”
“[Bub] gives an insight into the various aspects of Kashmiri society, culture and language.”
KK Raina (Shiban Lal), Kuber Sarup (Vinod), Virendra Razdan (Vinod’s uncle) Raju Kher (Neighbour) and Meenakshi Koul (Neighbours daughter) are the main actors in the film.
Radio Kashmir spoke very highly about two individuals starring in the film:
“Mr K.K.Raina, whose character runs throughout the movie, has done an excellent job. The young Kuber Sarup, 14 years old, does a very superb restrained part.”
Bub went on to bag the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration.
Akh Daleel Loolech (2006)
Akh Daleel Loolech, which means Love Story is one of the most historic Kashmiri films.
Exploring the social and political struggles of the Kashmiri people in the 19th century, the film is a direction by Aarshad Mushtaq.
Mir Sarwar who stars in this historical drama exclusively shared his thoughts on his involvement and more about the film:
“It was one of my initial projects in Kashmir, having done theatre and modelling in Delhi earlier. I was part of the National School of Drama workshop. And Mr MkM Raina was my director there.
“Mr Aarshad Mushtaq used to visit that workshop and saw me there. As a result, he offered me the role of the main protagonist in the film.
“Akh Daleel Loolech was a fun and a different experience. Besides being the producer, Tariq Javaid was also the main antagonist of the film.
“The songs were very good with the film receiving applauds by the audience.”
In addition, Akh Daleel Loolech was the first digital feature Kashmiri movie.
Harud is one of the best Kashmiri films to come out. The title of the film means Autumn. It is an independent art film made in the Kashmiri language. It was the first feature direction of Aamir Bashir.
Yusuf (Reza Naji) and Rafiq (Shahnawaz Bhat) are the central characters in this film.
Other characters include Fatima (Shamim Basharat), Shaheen (Salma Ashai), Ishaq (Mudessir Ahmed Khan) and Aslam (Raye Mojiuddin).
The film revolves around a family residing in an unsettling Kashmir region. Srinagar is the setting of the film.
Rohit Vas reviewing for News18 praises the director for attempting a difficult subject:
“Aamir Bashir should be applauded for trying his hands at such a complex narrative.”
The film had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011. The film has been dubbed, including in Urdu.
Valley of Saints (2012)
Valley of Saints is one of the top romantic Kashmiri films. This Kashmiri language film is the debut direction of Musa Syeed.
Musa is also the writer of the film. The breathtaking Dal Lake in Srinagar during a war-devasted Kashmir is the setting of the film.
The film actually raises awareness about an environmental aspect, linking to the lake.
The story is about a hard-working boater and a lovely youthful scientist who find themselves stranded on the lake.
It is there that the two begin to bond unbelievably. However, their promising romance becomes under threat when violence spreads in the city.
The film features Mohammed Afzal (Afzal), Gulzar Ahmed Bhat (Gulzar) and Neelofar Hamid (Asifa) as the lead stars.
It was the opening night film of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. It received the Sundance Film Festival World Dramatic Audience Award.
Partav is one of the most prominent Kashmiri films. Also familiar as The Influencer, Partav is a direction of Dilnawaz Muntazir.
Dilnawaz is also the writer of the film. The film stars locals artists, including Raja Majid (Professor Toor), Neelofar Hamid (Sadiya) and Nirmala Dhar (Zainab).
The film revolves around a highly literate professor who has an obsession with literary work. As a result of his devotion to the literary world, he renounces his wife six months post marriage.
With no family or friends, he arrogantly boasts about his fascination. This movie provides answers to many complex questions.
Partav was the first digital Kashmiri film shot in 35mm. An IMDb user gave the film 9 out of 10, with a review, which partly states:
“Partav is a very beautiful and masterfully crafted art.”
The film picked up the ‘Award of Excellence’ at the 2013 Canada International Film Festival.
Identity Card: Ek Lifeline (2014)
Identity Card: Ek Lifeline is one of the most important Kashmiri films. It is one of the earliest directions of internationally acclaimed Kashmiri filmmaker Rahat Kazmi.
Rahat was also one of the co-writers of the film, along with Sanjay Amar and Mr Moris.
The film has a police interrogative perspective with a representation of the stressful situation that emerges in Kashmir.
The film has several recognised faces, especially those from the Bollywood film industry.
These include Tia Bajpai (Nazia Siddiqui), Furqan Merchant (Ajay Kumar), Raghubir Yadav (Tarachand), and Saurabh Shukla (Gulam Nabi), Brijendra Kala (Hakim Din) Vipin Sharma (SP Samuel Vergese).
Manini Mishra (Channel Head), Prashantt Guptha (Inspector Dogra) and Shoib Nikash Shah (Raju) also star in this film.
Parts of the film were shown at the European parliament, whilst discussing the Kashmir conflict.
The film went on to pick up three international awards at the San Francisco Global Movie Festival. These include ‘Best Film,’ ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Supporting Actor’.
Half Widow (2017)
Half Widow is one of the most beautiful Kashmiri films. The drama film is in Urdu, with some dialogues in the Kashmiri language.
It was the directorial debut of Danish Renzu. Danish alongside Gaya Bola are the producers and screenwriters of the film.
The film follows Neela (Neelofar Hamid), a lady from Srinagar who is in search of her hubby, Khalid (Mir Sarwar).
This is after the Indian Army forcefully take her husband. Shahnawaz Bhat (Zakir) also features in this film, which had a special screening at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre.
Giving it a four-star rating, Aakansha Naval of Cineblitz wrote a positive review, with praising words for the director:
“It’s a hard look at the harrowing and emotional trauma of half widows in Kashmir.
“Danish Renzu’s directorial debut is storytelling at its best and not to be missed.”
The film did the festival rounds around the world, starting on December 16, 2017, at the South Asian International Film Festival.
Mantostaan was one of the most gripping Kashmiri films. Rahat Kazmi is the director of this tale of survival. It is an adaptation of four short stories by Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto.
These include Thanda Ghost, Khol Do, Assignment and Akhri Salute.
Rahat himself stars in this film as Rabi Nawaz. Rahat’s character has some interesting conversations with his counterpart, Ram Singh (Tariq Khan) on the other side of the border.
Mian Sahab (Virendra Saxena), Kulwant Kaur (Sonal Sehgal), Esher Singh (Shoib Nikash Shah) and Sirajuddin (Raghubir Yadav) are the key characters in the film.
The 1947 partition is the backdrop of the film, with one track of the film being Kashmir.
Whilst the principal photography of the film took place in Jammu and Kashmir, the makers also show a Punjab segment.
Making its premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival under the Le Marche Du Film (Film Market) category, Mantostaan had positive reviews.
Side A & Side B (2018)
Side A & Side B is one of the darkest comedy Kashmiri films. Rahat Kazmi is the director of this film.
He is also the writer of the film alongside reputable Canadian Kashmiri filmmaker Javid Banday. The film had a number of producers.
These include Buniyad Ahmed (Executive Producer), Rahat Kazmi (Producer), Tariq Khan (Producer), Zeba Sajid (Producer) and Jitesh Kumar Parida (Producer).
Javid Banday (Co-producer), Mujeeb ul Hassan (Co-producer) and Ashish Wagh (Co-producer) complete the producers’ lineup.
The film touches on the cinema ban during the Kashmir conflict.
It is a story about how young cinema lovers watch films and songs in hiding.
Shoib Nikash Shah (Rashid), Shahid Kazmi (Imtiaz), Tariq Khan (Barber), Azmat Khawaja (Azmat)m Rahul Singh (Rajan) and Rahul Manhas (Tariq Khan) all had pivotal roles in the film.
The film was an official selection at various film festivals worldwide.
Hamid is one of the most compassionate Kashmiri films. This independent film directed by Aijaz Khan took inspiration from the play, Phone No. 786, by Mohammad Amin Bhat.
The story focuses on a boy aged seven and his missing father. Talha Arshad Reshi plays the title role of Hamid, with Rasika Dugal (Ishrat) and Vikas Kumar (Abhay) also portraying major characters.
Additionally, Sumi Kaul (Rehmat) and Mir Sarwar (Abbas) are seen in supporting roles. Namrata Joshi of The Hindu, gave a favourable review, writing:
“Hamid has a simplicity, humaneness and a sense of poise that is profoundly moving.”
Yoodlee Films was the production company behind this film, which did the festival circuit across the globe.
Kashmir Daily (2018)
Kashmir Daily is one of the most critically acclaimed Kashmiri films of the contemporary era. Hussein Khan is the director, producer and writer of this Kashmiri language film also dubbed in Hindi.
The film comes under Hussein’s banner Seven Two Creations in association with Safdar Arts.
The story of the film is about a journalist. The film highlights several themes, linking to the modern generation. These include unemployment and drugs, along with good versus bad.
The leading names in the film are Mir Sarwar (Hussein Durrani), Neelam Singh (Pooja), Sanam Ziya (Zoya), Rajinder Tickoo (Gul Khan) and Hussein Khan (Hyder Durrani).
Hussein Khan exclusively told DESIbliz what this film meant to him saying:
“Kashmir Daily was very special to me. This Kashmiri film made history by releasing all over India in cinema halls.”
“It then became available on virtually all platforms, particularly digital and social media.”
Kashmir Daily was definitely a game-changing film from a Kashmiri cinema point of view.
2 Band Radio (2019)
2 Band Radio is one of the most satirical Kashmiri films. This film saw Saki Shah making his directorial debut.
The dynamic duo of Rahat Kazmi and Kunwar Shakti Singh were responsible for the screenplay and dialogues of the film.
The film takes inspiration from a real-life story in Kashmir.
A Himalayan village in the 70s is the backdrop of the film. Though most of the shooting of this film took place in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.
The film is loosely based on the short story Quench the Spark (1885), also interpreted as Spark Neglected Burns the House by Russian author Leo Tolstoy.
The film shows how the first radio in the village creates havoc amongst the people.
Pradhuman Singh Mall (Waseem) of Tere Bin Laden (2010) fame and British based actor Jitendra Rai (Roop Chand) are the main leads in the film.
Neelu Dogra, a high-grade actress from the National School of Drama portrays the Mrs of Waseem.
Tariq Khan (Monty), Rahat Kazmi (Kunwar Udhay Singh) and Zahid Qureshi are all hilarious in their respective roles.
Ritu Rajput (Tara) and Hussein Khan (Raja Sahab) are also good supporting acts in the film.
The film is relevant with greed, jealousy and change being at the core of it. The film had its World Premiere at the 2019 UK Asian Film Festival.
DESIblitz also hosted a special screening at Birmingham City University.
Lines is one of the most emotionally loving Kashmiri films. This is the second film for Hussein Khan as director.
Rahat Kazmi and Kunwar Shakti Singh were the writers of this film. Rahat Kazmi Films, Tariq Khan Productions and Zeba Sajid Films are the core producers of the film.
Alphaa Productions and Hiro’s Far Better Films are co-producers of the film in association with Seven Two Creations and Assad Motion Pictures.
Indian actress Hina Khan made her film debut in Lines, playing the lead role of Naziya.
The leading man of the film is Rishi Bhutani (Nabeel). His character ties the knot with Naziya in the film.
Veteran actress Farida Jalal (Fatima Bibi), Zahid Qureshi (Bilal), Rani Bhan (Maa) and Ahmer Haider (Sujaan Singh) also have vital roles in the film.
The year 1999 is the setting of the film. The husband and wife who are separated by borders are unable to communicate, with tensions mounting up between India and Pakistan.
The most interesting aspect of Kashmiri cinema is that many contemporary Kashmiri films are not made in local languages as was the case earlier on.
Moving forward, the likes of Rahat Kazmi have previously expressed an interest to make Kashmiri films in the Pahari language.
Many other Kashmiri films did not make our list but are worth looking into. These include Tahaan (2018), Oxygen (2019) and Angtithee (2021).
So why not give Kashmiri films a try and see which ones you like.