Shepherds of Kashmir

Towards Panjal and beyond.  Awarded Best Film in Non-feature film category.

What I really liked about the film was that it tried to capture the entire journey. The camera travels with the caravan as it heads towards the margs of Kashmir crossing the treacherous Panjals. The scenes follow the timeline of shooting for most part of the film. Shooting in strong winds and slippery mountains is a tough task.  Director writes“The horse carrying our equipment skidded and broke the solar charger. This limited our shooting hours so I had to use the camera judiciously to save my batteries.”

The translations are a bit off the mark. “Bakarwali go zamano ni de punjabi ban ja” translated into “If you don’t want to do it go to hell.” I cannot equate being a punjabi to going to hell.

Rajesh Koul’s film on Bakkarwals got the music right. Shepherds of Paradise has Kashmiri music playing the background which is not the part of culture that film tries to depict. Its strength is in depicting life of shepherd as he undertakes the journey every year and the film does that beautifully.

There are many passes that the shepherds use to travel across Panjals. I am guessing, this film was shot along the Darhal pass.

Rajauri-Darhal-Beloh-Aliabad Sarai-Hirpur-Shopian

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“Awwal Hamd sanaa elaahi, jo maalik har harr da
Us da naam chataaran aala, kise vi maidan na harda”
First, all praise is for almighty who is lord of all
Who so ever recites his name, never loses in any life

I don’t remember reading this Kalam, but it has been ingrained within my subconscious. I even don’t remember the first time I heard it. And I am not alone, a community has been bonded together with this age old Kalam.  The mountains of Pir Panjal, the Dhoks and the Margs right from across the Jhelum to Badharwa and even beyond resonate with words of wisdom.Awal Hamd is the first couplet of Saif-Malook( also called Saif ul Malook, Safar ul Ishq) and is an introduction, a prayer and praise of almighty. Saif Malook is the magnum opus of Mian Muhammad Baksh. It uses a lovestory as an allegory to describe Sufi’s journey. The magic of Saif Malook lies in its simplicity. It has been intricately woven into the local parlance and yet it is able captures magnanimity of Sufi thoughts and ideas. Text is concise and mostly deals with trails and tribulations of day today lives. Themes of friendship, ego, kinship and adoration are dotted throughout. The text opens up as the tale of Price Saif-ul-Mulk who falls in love with fairy princess Badi-ul-Jamal. It describes prince’s journey towards his goal faced with existential questions and the white Giant- Deuo Safaid. The genius of Muhammad Mian Bakhsh is in creating couplets which are complete in themselves and yet when projected together, they form small parts of a much bigger plan. Text contains over nine thousand such couplets which share a metrical form.

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Distance doesn’t matter when memory is strong. Flashes; I call them the alternate reality, rather the true reality. They don’t faint away, change and cannot be lost easily. Perception of the reality is based on this truer reality, the reality of mind and the universe within.I tend to see things, as they are shattered passing through the prism of alternate. Physical reality, the cold, the heat, the winds are all measured, against the scale of comparison with units of inner universe. My universe contains Snow and ice, Chirs and Deodars, Apples and Apricots, Valleys and Streams, Walnuts and whatnots. It snows here when it’s winter and the cold breeze blows in summers carrying with it the unruffledness of peaks. And sometimes, it turns green, fresh green when it rains in plenty and then muddy waters gush underneath the green hanging bridges, waters that hides all the haze and clouds and in such days the drops falling off the distant grasshopper’s tail reflect the shining sun straight into my eyes, blinding them at times, such is the thinness of air. I would count the number of tin houses on the other side of the valley, across the border and then recount the mud ones all over again and at other times would search for eyes gazing at the marvel of white capped mountains

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Wailing Conscious : Kashmir

This poem is in Gojri Language.
Rough Translation in English.

Ke hoon dasun tina
Ke hai mero dard
Ke hun puchon sab na
Ke hai mero dard

What Shall I tell you
What is this agony
Should I now ask others
What is this agony

Tho ek buto chinar go
Jisna lagi agg
Saawan man vi rahya sadhto
Kisra gi thiin rag

There was a chinar
And fire, it caught.
Kept Burning through the Mosoon
So were its vein

Hun gayi hai bhul Dal vi
Kisran go tho Sang
Jhelum ton da pahlan pucho
Kisran go tho rang

Even the Dal has forgotton
How were the aides
But Ask Jhelum first
How were those colors

Ke hoon dasun tina
Ke hai mero dard
Ke hun puchon sab na
Ke hai mero dard

What Shall I tell you
What is this agony
Should I now ask others
What is this agony

Aaya tha ghwandi ghasa
Mero puchan haal
Haathan maan talwar ghasin
Var Raya Salo saal

As the neighbors gathered
To enquire my strength
With hands full of swords
Decades, still they last

Thi koi himmat meri vi
Sadya that jad Ved
Roun us fasad na
Kisra go tho vo khed

Was I patient back then
When Veds were being cremated
I cry for the tragedy
Lo! What a play

Thi koi himmat meri vi
Kadya tha jad shaksh
Tho ek fasaad vo vi
Roun jisna Bakhsh

Was I patient back then
When many were exiled
Indeed that was defeat
Bakhsh, still I cry

Ke hoon dasun tina
Ke hai mero dard
Ke hun puchon sab na
Ke hai mero dard

What Shall I tell you
What is this agony
Should I now ask others
What is this agony

Tiyan marya ek so teeran
Ni Thi kai gal
Abdul Qadir dan das mina
Ni tho koi hal

One hundred thirteen Died
Was there a reason
Abdul Qadir now you speak
Was there a solution

Kunji kit hai us kitab gi,
Jisma likhi tabhai
Loodun phir un varkan na
Jisma likhi tanhai

Find the key to the book
In which is penned, devastation
And find all the pages
On which is engrossed, desolation

Lab jengi aaayat vi tina
Disen jadi parain
Gham var yo rehgo mina
Kisne Likhi hi yah tabhai

You will find the verses even
Which are painted, in weed.
Grieved I would always be,
Who signed this carnage

Ke hoon dasun tina
Ke hai mero dard
Ke hun puchon sab na
Ke hai mero dard

What Shall I tell you
What is this agony
Should I now ask others
What is this agony

Thankful to Aijaz for the wonderful Paintings.
More of Aijaz’s work here.

A Lost Age

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
-BoB Dylan

The story of how a community embarks on a journey that might bring an defy to its own identity.
Shared believes that have lost in the void between the old and the new.
All for a better life or so it seems.

A wonderful video by The Source Project best describes the past, present and the future.