March 15, 2019
Hamid movie cast: Talha Arshad Reshi, Rasika Dugal, Vikas Kumar, Sumit Kaul
Hamid movie director: Aijaz Khan
Hamid movie rating: Four stars
Sometimes, a film comes exactly at the right time. Hamid, set in strife-torn Kashmir, tells us that there is still hope, something we desperately need in our worn, troubled nation.
Eight-year-old Hamid (Reshi) makes a call to Allah, and lo, Allah answers. Through a set of entirely believable circumstances, Hamid gets connected to a CRPF jawaan’s cellphone, on duty in one of the most stressful spots in the world. The back and forth between the boy and man, the former who is searching for his missing father (Kaul), and the latter (Kumar) holding on to the shreds of his humanity, forms the backbone of this lovely, heartfelt film.
Hamid’s mother Ishrat, going through her own struggles, is played with heart-breaking resilience by the wonderful Dugal, even if her accent dips in places. A husband who goes out one night and never returns, is the story of countless women in Kashmir : Dugal takes this universal pain and makes it her own, as she sits with a group of men and women holding up ‘missing’ placards with photos of their loved ones, a visual made familiar to us via the news, and documentaries
To portray a sharply polarized place like Kashmir is not the easiest thing, because in the interest of showing all sides of an argument, a filmmaker can get hopelessly tangled in too many webs. The film, based on a play, Phone No 786 by Mohammed Amin Bhat, shows us walls plastered with slogans of ‘azaadi’, the stone-pelters, many of whom are not much older than Hamid, as well as those whose interests lie over the border, on the side of the terrorists. You can see that the film chooses not go deeper into any of these issues because what it primarily wants to do is to make a case for the ordinary people who live there, people who want to live a life of dignity and peace.
CRPF jawaan Abhay is on the frontlines of an undeclared war where injuries and casualties are an everyday occurrence. A man tired of losing his fellow soldiers has hair-trigger patience, even if it is a child at the other end of the muzzle: Kumar does a great job of showing us the effort in pulling back from the brink, and re-discovering his essential humane-ness. It is as powerful as the young boy finding a direction, which leads both out of despair.
Hamid eschews complexity for simplicity, for the right reasons. Eight-year-olds can be God’s messengers: Bhagwaan ke asli bhakt, Allah ke bande. Yes, they can.