26 October 2012

Valley of Saints (Musa Syeed, 2012, India)

Valley of Saints takes place primarily on and around Dal Lake in Kashmir.  At the start of the film, rebel actions lead to a city wide curfew which exempts the boat people who live on these little islands in the lake or in houses on stilts in the lake. Two boys have been planning to leave the city to try their fortunes in Delhi. Afzal is a typical macho type male, committed to various smuggling schemes and so forth, while Gulzar seems to possess a more sensitive and artistic temperament. Naturally Gulzar becomes out protagonist. The friends' attempt to leave the city is thwarted by the curfew and their relationship is strained as they booth swoon over this girl they are told to look after who is staying on Gulzar's uncle's (?) houseboat, which seems almost like a guesthouse built on stilts in the lake. The girl, Asifa, turns out to be a researcher studying the condition of the lake. It's great because there are the stories of these characters wrapped up both in the story of the political situation of Kashmir which looms in the background alongside the ecological crisis occuring witht his lake. I thought it was well done and compelling, overall.

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