ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Picture Postcard Idyll

Most depictions of Kashmir in popular Hindi cinema revolve around stock characters and archetypes in the ultimate romantic Indian imagination of an idyllic and unperturbed state.

As the quintessential “Other,” Kashmir—as representedin Bollywood or, rather, in Hindi cinema—appearsrather skewed, from a perception point of view, with little emphasis laid on any subjective attempt to understand either the people or the landscape. Kashmir was certainly the perfect destination for filming romantic interludes ­between the hero and heroine as seen in landmark films such as Kashmir ki Kali, for instance. The young and ravishingly beautiful Sharmila Tagore, attired in exquisitely embroidered pherans and adorned in traditional silver jewellery, amidst the scenes on the shikara on Dal lake, embodied the ultimate romantic Indian imagination of an idyllic and unperturbed Kashmir. The tall chinar trees and rolling green meadows of the Kashmir Valley formed the backdrop for the declaration of love and the dramatisation of romance. Indeed, for the audience, the appreciation would have been not only of the beautiful Sharmila Tagore, but also of the breathtaking landscape—“Tareef karu kya uski jisne tumhe banaya” (Do I praise you or the one who created you?)

So, it may be said that the representation of Kashmir in such films was largely on the basis of the landscape as scenic, uninterrupted. Stock characters and archetypes included figures like boatmen and tourist guides who are ingratiatingly eager to please the tourists from the plains. They are granted little agency, and should be seen as human extensions of a mute landscape that does not speak for itself in any way. The narratives are mostly geared towards the movement towards the big city where the hero and heroine must actualise the rest of their conjugal lives together. Hence, the “picture postcard” element is retained in the narrative logic of Hindi cinema.

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