Bollywood’s Kashmir Tales

Bollywood has been in love with Kashmir for a very long time. Its tales set and shot in Kashmir have changed with time. This detailed write-up offers brief storylines of select Bollywood films on Kashmir before and after the outbreak of militancy offering an idea about how the reel stories have portrayed the place and the people

Bollywood In Kashmir: This photograph offers some idea about the age-old relationship between Kashmir and the tinsel-town. KL Image: Masood Hussain

Bollywood is India’s most powerful cultural and social indicator. The films on Kashmir do provide a glimpse into how the average citizen looks at Kashmir. These 19 Bollywood films offer an idea of the portrayal of Kashmir by Bollywood pre-and-post 1989. Films made in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s show the beautiful romantic side of Kashmir while those after 1989 have tried to touch the conflict.

Junglee (1961)

A still from Bollywood film Junglee (1961) showing Saira Bano and Shammi Kapoor

The movie starts with Shekhar, an uptight man from an aristocratic family, is under the influence of his mother, who has disciplined him to the point that he is incapable of laughing and enjoying life. He puts on authoritarian demeanour in front of his co-workers and demands absolute obedience and adherence to the code of conduct in the office. His sister, Mala, is the black sheep of the family, who, unlike her brother, has learned to enjoy life and has even found love. Shekhar, on the other hand, is all set to marry a girl chosen by his mother, who comes from a family of royalty.

However, since their mother has stringent standards concerning the spouses of each of her children, Mala’s love affair is short-lived. When she sees that Mala is in a relationship with another, she immediately plans to move Mala out to Kashmir for a small period so that she can forget about the guy and move on.

As soon as they arrive in Kashmir, Mala is depressed, and Shekhar is as uptight as ever. Shekhar runs into a girl named Rajkumari, who accidentally throws a snowball at him. He soon learns that Rajkumari is the beautiful daughter of a local doctor and is the polar opposite of Shekhar. When Mala tries to commit suicide after finding out she is pregnant with her lover’s child, Rajkumari saves her and tells that she will save her from her family’s wrath.

Shekhar and Rajkumari fall in love. Shekhar begins to change and starts to care for people. He goes back to his hometown as a changed man. Everybody welcomes the change, expect his mother. Shekhar makes various attempts to get his marriage cancelled.

He brings Rajkumari home and tricks his mother into believing that she is also a royal. While his mother arranges the union, the real princess and her father confront the mother. The mother becomes upset after she comes to know about the cheating the real princess, meanwhile, has ulterior motives of her own in marrying Shekhar.

Shekhar convinces his mother of his love and the importance of happiness, and the movie ends on a sweet note with the entire family reunited around the addition of Rajkumari to the family.

Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)

Kashmir Ki Kali, the 1964 Bollywood film was a great effort to romanticise a landscape

Rajiv Lal played by is the only son of the widowed Rani Maa. He often annoys his mother with his crazy antics. His mother tries to find a solution to sober him up and ends up heeding the advice of the house servant, Karuna who suggests marrying him off to stop his immature antics.

To avoid confrontation, he goes out drinking with his friends, and when his friends come to know of his ordeal, they suggest that he should run away – preferably, to their bungalow in Kashmir, which is scarcely visited by his mother and no one would know of his presence there. When Rajiv arrives in Kashmir, he discovers that the caretaker, Bholaram, has been profiting off of their estate by turning the property into a hotel for tourists. Rajiv tries to convince the guests that he is indeed the owner of the Bungalow, but cuts a deal with Bholaram, who covers for him in case there might be a snitch at the hotel. Therefore, Bholaram tells everyone that Rajiv is mad and believes that he owns the hotel. Hence, the charade continues, and Rajiv stays at the hotel.

The next day, Rajiv meets Champa, a local flower girl, and is smitten by her innocence and beauty. He is so mesmerized by her that he buys flowers from her for Rs 20 when they are priced at 5. So, she isn’t scared off, and he tells her that he is not the owner, but the driver. They both start spending more time with each other and romance blossoms. However, Champa has a lot of personal problems that need to be tackled. For instance, Champa’s father, Dinu, is indebted to the forest manager, who had loaned him some money and insisted on marrying Champa if Dinu cannot repay the debt.

Things take a strange turn when Mohan discovers that Champa is not Dinu’s daughter and starts blackmailing him so he can marry her. Champa falls for Rajiv but turns back after she finds out that he is not the driver, but the owner of the estate.

Champa feels betrayed and cuts off all contact with Rajiv. Rajiv has to go back home after he receives a letter from his mother that their house servant Karuna is very sick. He returns to find Karuna on her deathbed, who then reveals that Rajiv is not the true heir to the Lal estate.

Instead, Rajiv is the son of Karuna’s destitute and alcoholic brother, Dinu, who sells his son off for a large quantity of alcoholic drink. Rajiv is taken in by Rani Maa, who later gives birth to a daughter, who is kidnapped by Dinu, who intends to kill her so Rajiv could inherit the estate by default. Rani Maa is devastated at the revelation, as she is told that her daughter was stillborn. It is revealed that Dinu did not follow through with the plan, as on the way he tripped and lost his eyesight. He decides to keep the girl alive. When Karuna is about to reveal the name of the girl, she passes away, and both Rani Maa and Rajiv are distraught. Rajiv, along with his friends Chander and Rani Maa, travel back to Kashmir to bring Champa.

When Rajiv goes to their house, he discovers that Champa is going to marry Mohan very soon. Champa begins questioning her father, who lies at first, but upon seeing his real son, is unable to contain himself and embraces him. He tells Champa that she is not his real daughter and reveals the truth to her. Champa embraces Rani Maa.

Their happiness is short-lived as Mohan brings his goons to kidnap Champa and marry her. The goons take Champa and Rani Maa away, tie-up. Rajiv manages to free himself and fights off his captors. He tells his friend to inform the police while he pursues Mohan on his own. Rajiv follows Mohan to his hideout and successfully stops the wedding ceremony. A fight ensues, and Mohan runs off, with Rajiv following closely. However, the police arrive just in time to arrest all of his goons and soon break up a fistfight between Rajiv and Mohan and take the latter away. The film ends on a happy note, as Rajiv and Champa finally get married and live happily ever after.

Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)

Jab Jab phool Khilay, a 1965 blockbuster featuring Shashi Kapoor and Nanda reinforced the belief that if it is love, it is Kashmir

Rita meets her tour guide in Kashmir, Raja. He is a simple Kashmiri guy, optimistic and blessed with an immense love of poetry and music. Things don’t go well between the two at the beginning of the movie, but late Raja ends up falling for Rita. Raja never confesses his love. He begins to miss her immensely and writes to her frequently. Rita visits Kashmir with her supposed fiancé, which breaks Raja’s hearts. The bond between Raja and Rita irks the fiancé to the point that he tries to hit Rita only to be stopped by Raja, who confesses his love to her later.

Rita returns the feeling. Her father is upset at first but soon gives his consent, provided that Raja tries to mend his ways to fit into their society. Raja does so, but after watching Rita’s frankness with other men, he is unable to shake his jealousy off and confronts Rita. Raja explains that his traditions and customs cannot allow him to move on with the marriage and breaks it off with her. Rita later discovers her father’s trick to get Raja out of the equation, prompting her to search for Raja. Both unite on a train bound for Kashmir.

Roja (1992)

Roja was the film released in 1992 that tacked Kashmir militancy. Basically a South India film, its roareing success led to its Hindi dub, much later.

A Kashmiri terrorist, Wasim Khan is arrested by Colonel Rajappa in Srinagar, Kashmir. In Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu a South Indian girl prays for her sister’s marriage proposal with Rishi Kumar to get fixed. Vaishnavi gathers the courage to convey to Rishi about her love affair with the son of her aunt and requests him to reject her. Rishi agrees and asks for Roja’s (Vaishnavi’s younger sister) hand in marriage instead. The marriage takes place on the family’s insistence, but Roja does not trust him. Roja is angry with Rishi for rejecting Vaishnavi and marrying her instead. Feeling guilty Vaishnavi calls Roja and tells her everything.

Love starts to grow, and life is perfect for the couple. Rishi is a cryptologist working for the government of India. He is posted at an army communications centre in Kashmir. Soon after landing in Kashmir, Rishi is kidnapped by a terror group in exchange for the release of Wasim Khan, a dreaded terrorist. Roja finds herself pleading with politicians and the military for help. Language problem makes it even difficult for her. Rishi is held captive by a terrorist group led by Liaquat and the Indian government is not willing to negotiate with the terrorists for the release of Rishi.

The rankled militants try to burn the Indian flag. Rishi risks his life to put out the fire showing his nationalist sentiments Liaquat’s sibling gets killed by the Pakistan army while trying to cross the border for militancy training. This shakes Liaquat’s convictions. Meanwhile, Roja succeeds in convincing the government to extend their help.

Against Colonel Rayappa wishes, the administration chooses to set free Wasim Khan in return for Rishi. Rishi does not have any desire to be utilized as a pawn in exchange for a terrorist. Rishi escapes from bondage. On the other hand, Colonel Rayappa, Roja, and other armed force officers reach the exchange spot with Wasim Khan, but Liaquat does not appear. This influences Roja to believe that Rishi is dead. The armed force secures Wasim Khan up in jail. Rishi reaches the exchange spot after evading the terrorists. Liaquat catches up with him and holds him at gunpoint. Rishi talks with Liaquat further and convinces him that his war is sinful. Liaquat has a change of heart, and he lets Rishi go and, he surrenders to the Indian Army. Rishi and Roja live happily ever after.

Kohram (1999)

A poster of the Bollywood flick Kohram, released in 1999

Major Balbir Singh performs an assassination attempt on the Home Minister but fails to kill him. He manages to escape from the scene of the crime before getting caught. Now convicted of Marshall law, Balbir goes out of sight, vanishing without any trace of his location. Major Ajit has appointed the task to capture or even kill Balbir to bring justice.

The film introduces Dadabhai, a man with a striking resemblance to Major Balbir, and army’s prime suspect as the newly assumed identity of the culprit. Major Ajit disguises himself as a reporter to cover his actual identity and offers Dada Bhai his services for an interview while trying to uncover his true identity. During this time, he meets a female police officer, Kiran, with a heart of gold, although corrupt at the core.

Just as Ajit is about to give up on Dadabhai, he admits that he is Major Balbir, and explains the reasons behind his deeds. Ajit supports Balbir in uncovering the true intentions of the Home Minister, and the duo embarks on a journey back. As a significant religious event is about to happen, the main villain of the story, a terrorist named Changezi, threatens to disturb the event while the Home Minister rises as a hero to fight him back. Both of them are working on the same plan of disruption, and it is up to both lead characters to stop them at all costs.

Hero-Love Story of a Spy (2003)

A poster of Bollywood film Hero – Love story of a Spy that was released in 2003

In Hero-Love Story of a Spy, Arun is an agent of RAW gathering intelligence from across the border and to make sure that any plans against India stop at all cost. He deputes himself in a Kashmir village in order to gather critical intel and trains a local girl Reshma to help him. Both soon fall in love. Through Reshma’s help, Arun can diffuse Pakistan’s plans to build a high-powered bomb that target India. Pakistan Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) chief Ishaq Khan uncovers Reshma’s identity.

Arun and Reshma return to India where they plan their wedding, but as the wedding day finally comes, their hopes and dreams are shattered when ISI launches an attack on the wedding and takes away Reshma. Arun embarks on a journey to take down Ishaq Khan and his team on his own. His journey leads him to Canada where he disguises himself as a nuclear scientist and marries Shaheen, daughter of Ishaq Khan’s associate, to gain a higher level of trust. He locates Reshma at his own wedding with Shaheen, leaving Reshma heartbroken, forcing her to leave and return to Kashmir. Arun successfully exposes Ishaq Khan’s plans of stealing a nuclear bomb to the world and takes them down, but with a cost of losing Shaheen in the process. He then returns home, and then to Kashmir, to be with Reshma.

Maa Tujhe Salaam (2002)

A still from Maa Tujhe Salaam, a 2002 Bollywood film

Indian military officer, Major Pratap Singh, is posted in Kashmir. With the help of local men, he is successful in blocking an infiltration attempt.

The film at that point presents a man named Lala, an effective and powerful man. In the latter part of the movie, it is revealed that behind the drapes, he is a Pakistani operator who helps in getting the trained militants across the border through the passage in the mountains known just to him and his men. In the winter season, the climate conditions end up noticeably unfit for the area’s inhabitants, who move to different spots to survive. Lala exploits the unforgiving climate for anti-national exercises.

Lala has a loyal henchman, Albaksh, an uneducated person who works as a slave for Lala. Albaksh was orphaned when young and therefore had great respect for Lala, which is why he is ready to crush the slightest hint of opposition to Lala.

Captain Sonia, a military intelligence officer, gets the information about Lala and Albaksh’s anti-national activities and deploys Major Pratap to Zhonabad.

Meanwhile, Albaksh discovers Lala’s activities and is remorseful at what he was doing. He opposes Lala, but it only makes matters worse as Lala frames and brands Albaksh as a spy and terrorist. The police arrest Albaksh, but he manages to convince Pratap that he is on their side now.

Subsequently, Major Pratap and Albaksh decide to take Lala out. The authorities do not approve of a full-armed attack against the enemy, but Pratap reaches Zhonabad and decides to fight the battle alone with the help of Albaksh and the local people. Lala is defeated and crushed, and Pratap hails as a hero along with Albaksh.

Zameen (2003)

A poster of the Bollywood film Zameen released in 2003

The film begins with authorities actively pursuing the dangerous terrorist Zaheer Khan. Colonel Ranvir Singh leads the operation, and Zaheer is taken into the Indian army’s custody. Meanwhile, militants from Pakistan occupied Kashmir are working with ISI and the Pakistani army to infiltrate Indian Kashmir. ISI reveals a list of their agents who are active in India and have taken up mundane jobs to carry out their heinous crimes.

Jaydev Malhotra works for the Anti-Terrorist squad in Mumbai which has recently stopped arms smuggling attempt by an ISI agent. The weapons are later revealed to be from the same battalion, which is under the supervision of Ranvir Singh. Ranvir realizes that there is a traitor amongst them, and as soon as he gets his suspicion on one of his subordinates, he is poisoned and killed.

Ranvir Singh and Jaydev were assigned to the same group to crack terrorist cells in the country. Both of them already share a history, as they once fought side by side in the same battalion, but Jaydev could not handle the bloodshed and soon quit the army. Therefore, Jaydev and Ranvir have their fair share of differences. In the meantime, the terrorists are actively working on their plans to exert pressure on the Indian government to release Zaheer. One of the ISI agents’ bribes two police officers at the airport to allow terrorists to board a flight from Mumbai to Kathmandu. One of the passengers is Jaydev’s fiancé, who works as a flight attendant along with Jaydev’s foster father.

The terrorists forced the pilot to fly to Kazan, which is in the Pakistan administered Kashmir. Armed militants surround the plane once it lands. The authorities begin their talks with the officials in Pakistan to try and convince them to send the Pakistani army or allow the Indian army to enter the region to rescue the hostages. The police and army work closely to find out the traitor in Ranvir’s battalion who had been supplying the terrorists with ammunition.

However, soon Ranvir and Jaydev come up with a plan to rescue the civilians and apprehend the terrorists. Jaydev and Ranvir come out victorious from that fight and manage to capture Zaheer again.

Jaal: The Trap (2003)

Poster of the Bollywood spy thriller, Jaal the Trap that was set in Kashmir. It was released in 2003

The action-drama tells the story of a man, Ajay, who becomes a stake for the terrorists after the love of his life is captured by a Kashmiri terrorist group. He fights his way through to save her, but only to find out that he landed himself in a bigger conspiracy.

Kaul family, consisting of four members: Major Amrish and his spouse Sudha, a daughter, and a son named Ajay who live in Kashmir. Ajay meets Neha Pandit who is a widow; however, he is not deterred by this and tries to convince RK Sharma, her father-in-law, to bless them as a couple. After the approval of RK Sharma, when Ajay and Neha were about to start a new life, Neha gets captured by a terrorist group led by Junaid Afghani. In exchange for Neha’s freedom, they want their accomplice released. They also demand Ajay hand over Anita Chaudhary, daughter of Bhagwat Chaudhary, the home minister of India.

To get Neha Pandit back, Ajay now has to abduct Anita Chaudhary for the terrorist group. He flies to New Zealand where Anita lives under the supervision of Ajay’s father with tight security. During his time in New Zealand, Anita falls in love with him. Ajay uses her feelings to lure her out of security and then hands her over to the terrorist group. Later, it is revealed that Neha is a terrorist as well and was using Ajay to get her husband, Naveed Rabbani out of jail. Ajay manages to escape from them and makes a plan to turn the table.

Ajay gets hold of Rabbani who was to be released in exchange for Anita and handcuffs him to a train. The film has a happy ending with Ajay killing the terrorists and Anita killing Neha. The Indian forces capture Naved Rabbani.

Fanaa (2006)

A still from the Bollywood 2006 flick, Fanaa

It is a love story set in the background of militancy. Zooni, a blind girl falls for Rehan, a tourist guide. Rehan gets killed in a bomb blast. Zooni retains her eyesight and gives birth to Rehan’s child. Later in the movie, it is revealed that Rehan is still alive and he is a terrorist. She crosses paths with him again while Rehan is working on a secret mission. Zooni is unable to recognize him but is still attracted to him. Torn between love and national duty, Fanaa explores how political views can destroy relationships. Zooni Ali Beg is a visually impaired Kashmiri girl who is travelling for the first time without her parents to Delhi. Her dance group accompanies her, for a performance during the Republic Day ceremony.

In Delhi, she meets Rehan Khan, a tour guide, who shows interest in her. Even though her friends warn her about his character, she still falls in love with Rehan. Zooni spends her last night in Delhi with Rehan. The next day Zooni is on a train going back to Kashmir. Rehan comes to send her off but, both realize that they cannot leave each other and decides to get married. Zooni undergoes surgery to regain her sight. She later comes to know that Rehan got killed in a bomb blast.

The movie later reveals that Rehan is part of a militant group fighting for Kashmir. As they are hot on the group’s trail, they surmise that the bombing for orchestrated by one of their members who had been studying the place for a long time, equipping him with the knowledge of planting the bomb in such a precise location. As they trace the mastermind’s footsteps, the narrative changes to Rehan’s perspective, revealing that he had been the perpetrator this entire time. His meticulous planning is shown through a flashback as he befriends and murders a security guard, fakes his death to avoid detection. The audiences also find out that Rehan loved Zooni but gives her up due to his real identity.

The film jumps forward seven years, and Rehan is working on another dangerous mission. Rehan’s mission is to infiltrate into the Indian army camp and get hold of a trigger to a nuclear bomb, which is with the terrorists. Only the trigger is required to make the ammunition operational. Rehan steals the trigger, but by this time Malini has already figured out his plan and dispatched forces to apprehend him. A chase ensues, and Rehan escapes. However, he is severely injured. He somehow makes his way to a cottage to seek help; the resident of the cottage is none other than Zooni. She takes Rehan in, not knowing that he is the same man she fell in love with seven years ago. Zooni lives in the cottage with her father and her seven-year-old son, whose actual father is Rehan. Rehan gets close to the entire family, and his feelings for Zooni re-emerges. Zooni also is attracted to Rehan, but she remains silent about it.

Eventually, Rehan reveals that he is not only the man Zooni loved but also the father of her child. Zooni is hurt but later on, admits that she cannot live her life without him. She decides to legitimize their relationship and Zooni’s father subsequently’ conducts their marriage. Everything seems to go well for the family until Malini publishes a report, with details of Rehan. Zooni’s father stumbles upon the report and confronts him about it. Zooni’s father gets killed by Rehan during the confrontation. Rehan’s behaviour around the house becomes even more suspicious, and when Zooni asks him about her father, he downplays it.

Rehan later kills the officer who discovered him. Zooni watches a news report and realizes that Rehan is behind all the murders. She steals the trigger and takes her son to the security post where she finds only blood. She leaves a message for Malini on the radio for help. Rehan tries to convince Zooni to hand over the trigger to him and manages to take the trigger from her, but she runs after him to stop and shoots him. Malini arrives with reinforcements just in time to save Zooni and her child.

Rehan dies in Zooni’s arms and is buried right next to Zooni’s father. In the closing scene, Zooni sits with her son in front of the graves. Son asks her if his father was wrong? He did what he thought was right, she replies. Both of them profess their love for Rehan and leave.

Mission Kashmir (2000)

In a Mission Kashmir poster Hrithik Roshan and Priety Zinta

Inayat Khan, the Senior Superintendent of Police lives in Srinagar with his wife Neelima and his son Irfan. One day; his young son has an accident while playing and is taken to a hospital. He is lying in the hospital bed, but no doctor attends to him as a fatwa (religious pronouncement) is instigated by the leader of a terrorist group forbidding doctors from treating police officers and their families.

Khan’s pleads turn futile as the doctor’s refuse, saying they are willing to die rather than letting the terrorists kill their families. His son Irfan succumbs to his injuries and Khan swears to put an end to the threat of the terrorist in Kashmir.

After finding out that the group of terrorists is taking refuge in the Dalgate area of Srinagar, Inayat Khan sets out the fire and kills them along with an innocent family who was forcibly sheltering the terrorist. Altaf survives the shooting, but he is severely traumatized by seeing his parents and sister die in front of his eyes. He stares at a police officer who killed his family but is unable to see his face as Khan is wearing a balaclava.

Inayat Khan’s wife Neelima having lost Irfan and feeling sorry for Altaf, attempts to persuade Khan to adopt the boy. Khan, reluctantly agrees, feeling extremely repentant for killing Altaf’s family. Altaf loves to draw, and he keeps himself busy with sketches and paintings.

Many times, he sketches a picture of the man wearing the balaclava who killed his entire family, as this image is engraved in his memory. Months later, he realizes that Khan is the one who killed his parents. Altaf runs away to join the militant organization in Pakistan led by a Pathan leader Hilal Kohistani who brainwashes him into thinking that he and his men are fighting for the Kashmir freedom and working to liberate the territory from India. Altaf becomes a trained terrorist, and he is made to believe that whatever he is doing is according to Islamic principles.

Time passes, Altaf is a trained terrorist and is assigned the task of completing Mission Kashmir, a plot made by an unnamed terrorist organization that involves killing the Indian Prime Minister. His mentor Hilal Kohistani directs Altaf’s hatred towards Khan (who is now the Inspector General of Police). Altaf crosses the border to reach Kashmir. He reaches Srinagar and visits his childhood sweetheart and TV personality Sufiya Pervez and plans to use her to execute Hilal’s plot to blow up the TV tower of Srinagar. He attempts on Khan’s life but fails and, in the process. Khan recognizes him and begins tracking him down. Neelima shows her discomfort, resulting in the fallout between Khan and Neelima.

Sufiya also learns of Altaf’s mission and breaks off her relationship with him, feeling betrayed, though she knows that the tragedy has made him what he is.

Neelima secretly meets Altaf, who tells her about his plan of killing Khan. Altaf once again tries to kill Khan by planting a bomb in Khan’s briefcase. Neelima falls victim to it instead of Khan.

The fight to get each other becomes more intense as both have nothing to lose now. Finally, Khan finds the information regarding mission Kashmir after being able to destroy one of Hilal’s hideouts. He realizes that the plot is not to kill the prime minister but to destroy a Mosque and trigger communal violence and the attack on TV tower was with the objective to spread the false plan. Hilal intentionally does not reveal to Altaf what Mission Kashmir is, realizing that Altaf would not support it and would endeavour to stop it. Sufi communicates Altaf’s photograph on TV as a feared psychological oppressor, and Altaf escapes to a swampy nook to prepare for the launcher.

In the meantime, Khan with his men catches Hilal. But Altaf already left to go forward with the plans before they reached. Khan acts wise and offers to arrange with Hilal by enabling him and his men to proceed forward with Mission Kashmir in return for Altaf. He shows Hilal that he is more occupied with revenge for Neelima’s death rather than serving his nation. Seeing that Khan’s scorn of Altaf is deserving of a Pathan’s obligation, Hilal acknowledges the arrangement, and to guarantee no other error will be made; Khan obliges Hilal to the rocket hideouts.

Hilal and Khan reach the marshes, Altaf begins assaulting a fatigued Khan to avenge his family’s murder. At the same time, Khan uncovers to him the original objectives of Mission Kashmir, expressing that Kashmir will transform into hellfire. Having had enough of listening in to him, Altaf attempts to shoot Khan in the head.

As Altaf battles to do it, the memories of Neelima was holding him back. Altaf decides to keep the plan of revenge aside and helps Khan to prevent Hilal and his men from targeting the sacred shrines.

While things are going to end, Hilal tosses a bomb to divert them before getting shot to death by Altaf, allowing Hilal’s men to get ready to blast the sacred places.

While Khan battles back by shooting a few terrorists to death, Altaf makes up for himself by claiming a rocket launcher and utilizing it to decimate alternate bombers and execute the rest of the terrorists, saving the shrines. Eventually, Altaf gets shot in the chest, and he falls into the marshes. Khan at that point bounces in and securely conveys the oblivious Altaf to the shore, dodging the blast of the forts caused by Altaf demonstration of recovery.

Pukar (2000)

A poster of the Bollywood film Pukaar 2000

A major political figure in India, while on his way to a temple, is captured by a fierce terrorist called Abrush. The army assigns Major Jaidev Rajvansh and his fellow officers the task to rescue the legislator and catch his kidnapper, Abrush. The terrorists are in the list of ‘wanted’ for several crimes. Jai and his team finally manage to complete the operation and returns home as a national hero. He then takes a vacation from the forces to go back to the place where he grew up. Anjali, his childhood friend, is in love with him and uses this time to make him fall for her.

Pooja Mallappa, the new Miss India, meets Jai in a party and they both fall in love.

Jai’s parents are with the impression that he likes Anjali, but as they find out he loves Pooja, they confess it to Anjali. Anjali wants revenge for being rejected. Abrush takes advantage (via the said ‘kidnapped’ politician), who is hand in glove with Abrush. Together they plot to destroy Jai’s reputation and life.

Anjali desperately wants Jai and is tipped to steal certain important secret documents regarding Abrush’s movement from prison to prison. Jai is found guilty and declared a traitor and court-martialled. Pooja leaves him due to family pressure.

Jai, firm to prove his innocence hunts down Abrush. Anjali realizes her mistake and tries to thwart Abrush’s plans and helps Jai to prove his innocence.

However, Anjali gets kidnapped by Abrush, who discovers that Abrush is planning to carry out a significant bombing during an event during a show that the Indian government is to conduct. A fight ensues, and Jai overpowers Abrush. Finally, Jai rescues Anjali and forgives her, and both of them get married in the end.

LOC-Kargil (2003)

A poster from the Bollywood film, LOC Kargil, was released in 2003. It was one of the many films that tackled the Kargil war of 1999.

LOC-Kargil is a war drama based on the actual events of the Kargil conflict, where the armies of Pakistan and India clashed for supremacy. It witnesses the struggle of the Indian army to take back ownership of Kargil amidst the deaths and destruction rained upon them by the enemy.

The Indian army struggles with the crushing, burning, and killing by ruthless enemy forces, and face the fierce wrath of cold at Kargil. The enemy is with the advantage of being on the top of, raining hell from above. But the soldiers don’t give up, and even with death surrounding them, keep marching upwards, and make sure no sacrifice would be in vain.

The soldiers are stuck in Kargil between the mountains, facing death from everywhere, and are traumatized as their emotions are drenched away into the ice while they miss their families and loved ones. But it is their love for country and rage to avenge their fallen comrades, and they force the enemy back to where they came and wins the war.

Sheen (2004)

A poster of the Bollywood film Sheen (2004)

A 2004 drama thriller tells the story of Pandit Amarnath, a Kashmiri Hindu who is a teacher at a local school, who suffers along with others of his community at the hands of the militants who have vowed to ‘cleanse’ Kashmir from Hindus. His daughter, Sheen, is his only solace as he has to choose between the land he so dearly loves and the lives of the ones he loves.

Militants have taken over Kashmir with the aid of Pakistan. Hindu pundits, who are in the minority, are being regularly targeted and have to live through life-threatening circumstances. With the general masses united against the terrorist forces, Pandit Amarnath is adamant about saving his Kashmir from further destruction. In the end, his words win against the weapons of the Jihadis while the real face of the militants is unveiled, which is contrary to the teachings they claimed to follow.

Yahaan (2005)

Poster of the Bollywood film, Yahaan (2005)

It is a war, romance drama filmed in Kashmir. Perils arise as a young army officer, Aman who falls in love with a Kashmiri maiden, Ada. Ada’s brother, Shakeel, dawns upon them. Ada is now caught up in a situation where she has to fight her brother for her lover Aman, whose life is at stake. Shakeel is a Kashmiri journalist whose printing house has been burned down by the Indian army, and later his friend is shot dead by the same. With a traumatic life, Shakeel is easily enticed by Al-Sami, the leader of a jihadi organization, and he joins hands with him against those who took away his freedom.

Ada, Shakeel’s sister, falls in love with an Indian soldier, Aman. Despite repeated warnings from the locals, Aman couldn’t help falling for Ada. When the Indian army captures Al-Sami, Aman leads from the front. In retaliation, Shakeel gets his hands-on Aman and his comrades. Learning of the disappearance of her swain, Ada goes on a quest to find him, ultimately ending up in Shakeel’s den and saving Aman from Shakeel. The army learns of Aman’s close association with Shakeel’s sister and accuses him of being a traitor, leading to the issuing of the orders for his court-martial.

Meanwhile gets the attention of a private media channel to get justice for Aman. Angered by her bold step, the militants blow up Ada’s home and lay siege to a mosque, making the worshippers captives. They demand the release of Al-Sami and refuse to negotiate with anyone expects Aman. Aman risks his life and enters the mosque only to be brutally beaten by Shakeel. Al-Sami is released and plans a secret operation. Ada’s interview is aired and heard by everyone in the mosque, including Al-Sami. Al-Sami takes Shakeel along, but before he could make it to the destination, he is shot in the eye by Aman.

Lamhaa (2010)

A still from the film, Lamha

An action thriller, it revolves around the story of an Indian military spy who infiltrates terrorist hideouts in Kashmir to locate the terrorist leader responsible for killing innocent people. He understands that it’s not only the terrorists threatening the sanctity of Kashmir and its people, but also large corporations, politicians, and even some army officials. An organization generates massive cash flow, benefiting the power-hungry politicians and even military and intelligence officials belonging to Pakistan and India alike.

Realizing the imminent threat and its long-term effects on Kashmir, Indian military intelligence sends its top spy Vikram, disguised as a Kashmiri Muslim, to investigate and locate the culprits behind the militants.

Tahaan (2008)

A still from the Bollywood movie, Tahaan. Set in Kashmir, it was released in 2008

It is a drama about the titular character, who is a young boy who shares a strong attachment with his donkey. But the mother sells his donkey to repay a loan.

The story revolves around Tahaan’s efforts to get the donkey back in a region that is marred by terrorist activities. The film starts with Tahaan, a Kashmiri boy living with his mother Haba, grandfather, and sister Zoya. Father went missing three years ago.

The family still waits for his return. Soon into the movie, Tahaan’s grandfather dies, leaving the family with nothing but financial problems. The family is unable to pay the loan back to the local money lender and is subsequently pushed further into crisis when all their assets, including Tahaan’s pet donkey Birbal, is taken away as compensation for an unpaid loan. While the rest of family has passively accepted the troubled situation, Tahaan is determined to bring his pet donkey back home.

After saving money through various means, Tahaan approaches the moneylender only to be told that Birbal has been bought by an old man named Subhan Dar, who later went across the mountains. The boy’s father went missing across the same mountains three years ago. Tahaan decides to go in search of Subhan Dar. He finds him and is hired to guide Birbal, and as payment, he will get Birbal back later on. But upon completing his task, Tahaan neither gets Birbal nor any other amount.

Subhan, rather than doing as he promised, gifts Birbal to his eight-year-old nephew.

Tahaan goes home, disappointed by the events. On his way, he finds Idris, a teenager who further discourages Tahaan, telling him that his efforts will not suffice to get his pet donkey back. He agrees to help Tahaan rescue Birbal in exchange for a favour. He asks Tahaan to carry a package across the mountains on his way. Idris hands a grenade over to Tahaan and says that at the right time, he will receive further instructions.

Tahaan goes through a checkpoint safely with the package and grenade undiscovered because the soldiers knew Subhan Dar was a trusted man. Tahaan, about to perform a militant act with his grenade, removes the pin but immediately changes his mind and throws the grenade into the river, harming no one. Subhan Dar’s nephew, who has Birbal, hands it over to Tahaan. Tahaan’s father also emerges from the same building that Tahaan was meant to destroy with the grenade, but in the end, he is not only reunited with his donkey, Birbal, but his father as well.

Sikandar (2009)

Post of the Bollywood movie sikandar (2009)

An action drama, its titular character is a teenage boy who finds a gun and gains the confidence to face his fears, while not realizing that the power is corrupting him and making him into what he seemingly stands against. Set against the backdrop of the Kashmir issue, the film shows how the region is tarnished and divided by politicians, army, moulvis, and militants, while the local community suffers attacks and fears all the men with power. As the story unveils itself, it becomes quite clear that Sikandar might be the only solution to the most significant problems. Events of the film take place in the beautiful Kashmir, home to a sizable Muslim community, but has turned into a conflict zone. The military and political presence express their mutual interest in eradicating the militants while still having conflicts of interests.

Amid both happiness and chaos, teenager Sikandar is introduced living with his aunt and uncle as he has lost his parents to militants. Sikandar is an ideal good boy, a good football player, helpful and peace loving, but bullied by the opposing football team players. He gets his hands on an abandoned pistol. Having the gun makes him feel confident and bold enough to face his fears without realizing that the power is manipulating him.

Sikandar is manipulated by the militants and trained to use the gun and is also brainwashed to be a weapon himself. But fate has a different plan. Soon things spiral out of control as Sikandar is forced to make choices that are not his, and as the authorities begin to connect the dots, the final revelation brings us to the climatic ending with Sikandar making the ultimate choice while drenched in the lies of religion, politics, and defence.

Haider (2014)

Irrfan Khan explaining a shot of film Haider to the lead actress in Srinagar’s Partap Park.

Set in 1995 during the time of the Kashmir conflict when a surgeon named Hilal Meer agrees to carry out an appendicitis operation for the head of a terrorist faction. To stay undetected, he operates on the leader at his home, despite his wife, Ghazala’s, protests. Soon after, during an army raid, Meer is charged with the crime of aiding and abetting terrorists. A police operation takes place at his house, and subsequently the leader of the pro-separatist group is taken down. Meer, who get involved in this conflict, is also taken away for interrogation. To kill any other militants who might be hiding in his home, his place is bombed.

Some days later, Meer’s son, Haider, returns to Kashmir from his university and is deeply troubled by various questions regarding his father’s disappearance.

When he reaches home, he is surprised to find his uncle, Khurram, courting his mother instead of showing any signs of distress. Upon seeing his mother’s calmness regarding the situation, Haider decides to take matters into his own hands and starts looking for his father in numerous police stations and camps. His fiancé, Arshia, a journalist, accompanies him.

He is bereaved of all hope, as all his endeavours fail to give him any answers or leads to his father’s whereabouts. Arshia runs into a strange man called Roohdaar, who claims that he might have some useful information for Haider. They make an arrangement to meet, and it is revealed that Roohdaar works for the pro-separatist faction in Kashmir and was an inmate in the same prison facility where Haider’s father was held. Roohdaar convinces Haider that not only did he know his father, but his father was also a victim of his brother, Khurram’s, betrayal, who is now romancing his mother. Hilal was killed in the facility, and Roohdaar sole purpose of meeting Haider is to avenge his father’s death, which was his dying wish.

Haider becomes distraught after finding all this out and becomes mentally unstable. His strange behaviour alarms his mother and uncle. His uncle later finds out about his meeting with Roohdaar. He tells him that the man responsible for his father’s death is actually Roohdaar. Torn between the two accounts, Haider does not know who to trust and divulges his misery to Arshia. He tells her that Roohdaar gave him a gun and wants him to kill Khurram. Arshia unwittingly tips her father off, who warns Khurram and makes arrangements to send Haider off to a mental institution.

Haider is unable to kill his uncle, but his real intentions are exposed. He is ordered to be killed, but escapes and asks Roohdaar for help, who advises him to come to Pakistan to get trained. Haider agrees, and before crossing borders, he calls his mother to inform her, who requests to meet him one last time.

When Haider meets his mother, he finds out that she was the one who tipped Khurram regarding the terrorists hiding in Meer’s house. However, she had not known that Khurram was an army informer. She asks Haider to shoot her, but he refuses to do so, telling him that her life is her punishment. Arshia’s father finds Haider and points his gun toward him. Suddenly, Haider turns around, shoots him in the head, and escapes.

Unable to cope with the death of her father at the hands of Haider, Arshia loses her mind and commits suicide. Ghazala finds Roohdaar number in Arshia’s diary and calls him. Haider is instructed to go to a graveyard where his father was buried, which is his pick-up point from where he will be taken to Pakistan. Haider comes to terms with the universal phenomenon of death and philosophizes about this bitter truth about life.

The next day, a funeral enters the graveyard for the burial, and a green cloth over the casket shows that the funeral is that of a woman. Haider, unaware of Arshia’s death, sees her brother at the funeral, and it dawns on him that Arshia has passed away. Arshia’s brother informs Khurram and lunges at Haider. A fight ensues, which ultimately leads to Haider killing her brother as well. A fierce gunfight begins.

In the meantime, Ghazala and Roohdaar also reach the fight scene. Just at the moment when Khurram is about to fire a rocket to kill Haider, Ghazala intervenes and convinces Khurram that she can talk to Haider and get him to surrender. Her efforts fail as he tells her that he cannot die without avenging his father’s death.

Ghazala says that vengeance only results in vengeance and this destructive cycle is endless. But Haider does not understand and refuses to step back from his task.

Ghazala cries and kisses Haider, and steps outside the house to confront Khurram and his men. She reveals that she has been wearing a suicide vest.

Haider and Khurram run towards Ghazala, but she pulls the pins of the grenades, resulting in a big explosion. The impact kills the rest of the men and causes Khurram to lose his legs, leaving him on the brink of death. Haider is shocked and mourns his mother’s death as he circles around the area of the explosion only to find scattered remains of his mother and the men the blast had killed. He sees Khurram trying to crawl away from the location and goes to him in order to avenge his father by shooting him in the eyes, as per his father’s wish, but his mother’s words come to his mind, telling him ‘vengeance only results in vengeance’, and he hence opts to leave Khurram. He begs Haider to be killed and to be free of the burden of guilt while Haider walks away.

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