Making and Unmaking of Paradise

Bilal Ahmad SHAH, Anjali Gera ROY


The centrality and ubiquitousness of visual culture in contemporary society signifies the potential it has not only in transferring information about every day issues to the masses, but affecting the way people understand and respond to these issues. Working with the premise that visual culture, specifically cinema, draws on wider hegemonic discourses circulating within the public space to construct its own narrative of spaces, places and people it represents, this article aims to present a symptomatic reading of three Hindi films of the 1960s about Kashmir: Junglee (1961), Kashmir Ki Kali (1964), and Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965). It will contrast these with post-1989 films such as Roja (1992), Mission Kashmir (2000), and Lamhaa (2010) to examine how Bollywood has participated in the historical construction of the Valley of Kashmir while decisively intervening in that history by producing two polarized images of both Kashmir and Kashmiris. By closely analyzing the visual, narrative, cinematic and affective aspects of this development and contextualizing it against the local politics of Islam, the article aims to contribute to a better understanding of how Bollywood has used religious markers decisively at a certain historical juncture so as to open up new possibilities for the ideological assimilation of the long standing Kashmir conflict.

Keywords: Hindi Cinema, Muslim Identity, Representation, Kashmir, visual culture