Under Review: ‘Freedom’s Thirst’


“Kashmir is India’s heart” says the narrator of this film, but the Kashmir region is not a safe place. Last summer, there were 47,000 deaths and 3,400 disappearances resulting from political struggle.

Some news analysts have speculated that the Kashmir area is the seat of all troubles and instability, providing a spawning ground for the development of the Pakistani-financed mujahideen insurgency movement that has spread throughout the Middle East.

Whatever is true or not true, it is a good idea to be informed.

“Freedom’s Thirst” is an attempt to explain the complicated Kashmir area situation, as simply and colorfully as possible. The film begins and ends with a focus on tourism. Poetry is scattered throughout the narration. However, at the center of the film is a strong political plea for independence.

Kashmir’s history, even its name and geographical definition, has been problematical for at least 500 years. India, Pakistan and China all own a part.

Documentaries usually give too much information. The viewer is set up with catchy visuals and a simple story in the first 45 minutes and then crammed past the threshold with historical and ideological bits in the last 55 minutes. “Freedom’s Thirst” does just the opposite. It doesn’t tell enough.

But maybe that’s a good thing. This film piques a viewer’s curiosity to research the questions that spring from this carefully constructed film that gives a message that there are those in the Kashmir region who want an independent, sovereign nation.

The production crew had to be careful in its filming. After release there was an attempt by the Indian government to repress it — of course, making it even more popular to view secretly in the Indian-Pakistani-Kashmir area.

The film tries to be very careful. It begins with the information that Kashmir has been known as a great tourist location because of its great climate and beautiful scenery. There are high mountains, lush valleys and beautiful lakes. Men are showed joyfully sledding in the snow and joking around. Tourists congregate in a lush green park to get their pictures taken in the typical Kashmiri dress and jewelry provided by the photographer. The women shyly laugh and smile as their pictures as they are dressed up and their pictures are taken.

Towards the end of the film it looks like the same location and situation except that the similar shy and smiling women are posing with machine-gun toting men in camouflage. Strange. But, this typifies the bizarre nature of living in a combat zone where Wikipedia claims over 100,000 citizens, 7,000 police and 20,000 insurgents have been killed in the last 20 years.

The film’s narrator says, “From the most militarized zone in the world, a lesson: that domination does not mean victory.”

Excerpts from a poem by Zarif Ahmed, a Kashmiri poet:

    My gaze has been silenced
    What frenzy is this?
    lost the city of love I’d found,
    What frenzy is this?

    I worshiped shadows all my life
    Did I alone miss the arrival of the dawn
    What frenzy is this?

    I smeared the glass with blood to make mirrors
    My image — a stranger
    What frenzy is this?

The bottom line for “Thirst for Freedom” is that this kind of film-making is a brave beginning to informing the world about a people who desire freedom and what the costs are to their own pride and dignity when it is refused.


Director and Writer: Sanjay Kak
Associate Producer: Aijaz Hussain
Photographer: Ranjan Palit
Editor: Tarum Bhartiya
Publisher: Journeyman Pictures
Web site:
Length: 52 minutes
Location: Asia
Copyright: © Octave Communications PVT Ltd
Published: April 16, 2010
Last Updated: May 19, 2010

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