Ridley Scott once said, “Life isn’t black or white, but a demure shade of grey.” Things are more than what they seem, and there are multiple nuances to what you see. Hamid takes on the exact same approach, but with regards to something extremely sensitive – who does Kashmir belong to?
It is the story of a Hamid (Talha Arshad Reshi), a 7-year-old Kashmiri boy with a constant look on despondence on his tiny, worn out face. The child is forced to grow up when faced with a missing father and helpless mother on the lookout for a ghost while struggling to feed and clothe her kid. Somewhere along the way, the child is forced to grow up but somehow still manages to retain some of his innocence. In a sense, it is like a coming of age film for our young protagonist. In all his naivete, he turns to God for an explanation, a rationalization as to why his father is mending the gates of Heaven. Based on Hearsay alone, he manages to come up with the phone number of God. Despite the abundant spiritual connotations and urdu dialogues, this film is far from religion. However, the number turns out to be of Abhay, a Soldier of the CRPF. The dialogue between Hamid and Abhay forms the crux of the events.
The movie is based on the play Phone No. 786 by Mohd. Amin Bhat, and it is a very emotionally charged affair. The writer has done an excellent Job of according an incredible depth to all the characters, especially Abhay. This is where the gray comes in – we are usually presented with a very polarized view of Kashmir’s Disposition. Neither the Military or the Locals are portrayed in a definitive light. They are all victims of the situations, and of individual failures and moral compromises. The beautiful locales of the Jhelum are painted in a shade of grey, eliciting pathos for all the characters. The brilliance of the film lies here, the screenplay and the characterization are amazing. Themes of displacement are explored. Now coming to literal colors, Kashmir is shown off like the beauty she is. The picturesque vales, the vibrant Jhelum and the cold hues, they are all at the forefront here. I would say, if not for the story watch it for the cinematography. It is so utterly beautiful, I sit here consoling myself of living in this concrete jungle.
The movie has just one song, “Hukus Bukus”. It symbolizes joy, good times. It is also one of the central reasons why it stole my heart. The replacement of the song with patriotic yells of “Badhe Chalo” was a point of juxtaposition that I appreciate. The performances of all the actors is brilliant, especially Rasika Dugal. We saw her in Delhi Crime, and she has done justice to the character. Her portrayal of Ishrat Khan’s powerlessness and uncertainty was raw and powerful, almost moving. She sheds tears very late in the movie, but the emotional turmoil she faced was very raw and on the surface. It really puts into perspective the fate of several real women faced with the loss of their sons and husbands. The movie also works as a very vocal social commentary, not just a brilliant personal story. Vikas Kumar shows utmost dedication to the role as well, with his rendition of the marching song sending chills down my spine. However, the protagonists portrayal while good landed a little flat, and too much was asked of the child. Regardless, Hamid’s portrayal was devoid of a smile throughout the film – perhaps intentional, but seeing the child robbed of his childhood was heartbreaking to witness.
“Hamid” is a definite visual and emotional treat. A very moving story of profound loss and of rowing forward.
I give it 4 chirps.