By Mary Ann Chacko
In this interview, filmmaker Ajay Raina speaks to Mary Ann Chacko, about Kashmir Oral History Project (http://kashmiroralhistory.org/). This project intends to record the stories of ordinary Kashmiris, both in the valley and in exile, who have witnessed violence and misery since Independence (1947) and in an accentuated way in the 1990s.
Ajay Raina did his postgraduate Diploma in Film Direction and Screenplay writing from the Film & Television Institute of India in 1991. He has made documentaries and written feature length fiction films, occasional essays & reviews on films/books and about the conflict situation in Kashmir and has also co-written/directed a fiction serial for prime TV channel.
He has won 53rd National Film Award of India (Rajat Kamal) for Documentary Film WAPSI (2005), Golden Conch award at Mumbai International Film Festival (2002), IDPA Silver Trophy (Independent Documentary Producers Association) and RAPA Award (Radio & Advertising Professionals Association) for TELL THEM, THE TREE THEY HAD PLANTED HAS NOW GROWN (2002).
He was also awarded FONDS SUD, a film production grant given by the Ministry of Culture & Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of France, for his feature film script of ‘Araz’. His feature film project ‘Aharbal Falls’ was selected for OPEN DOORS coproduction Lab at LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL 2011.
He is the co-curator and organizer of the successful film festival “Kashmir Before Our Eyes”, which travelled to seven cities in India and was in news for good as well as bad reasons. (The Hyderabad screening was vandalized by “right wing Hindutva elements.” Read about the incident on Cafe Dissensus). It was first of its kind festival, which showed films about diverse narratives emanating from Kashmir, be it about exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, the alleged human rights excesses, the yearning for freedom or about the women who had to endure a lot in this conflict. The festival also incorporated book readings, discussions, music, and paintings.
He has also taught courses in Cinema Studies and Cinema/TV Production at the University of Pennsylvania and at the Film & TV Institute of India, Pune. He is presently based in the USA.
Mary Ann Chacko is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her dissertation examines the Student Police Cadet program implemented in government schools across Kerala, India with a focus on adolescent citizenship and school-community relations. She is an Editor of Cafe Dissensus. Read more of her work on her blog, Chintavishta.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issues of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “The Indian Jewry” (Edited by Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi).