Right off the bat, I will say that I’m glad I watched this movie. Most of the time the stories of Kashmir are riddled in bloodshed, Azadi slogans and the army. As beautiful as Kashmir is, the troubles and tribulations that make up most stories or movies are never a walk in the park kind. But Hamid is different. By that, I do not mean it just shows the luscious mountains and the beauty of Kashmir, in fact, quite the opposite. But, the treatment is what sets it apart from the other angry, overtly political dramas.
When eight-year-old Hamid‘s (played by Talha Arshad Reshi) father, Rehmat Ali (Played by Sumit Kaul) goes missing one night. He is too young to fully understand what happened. A year later, his mother Ishrat (Played by Rasika Dugal) still receives a we-don’t-know from the local police station every time she visits and her behaviour towards Hamid turns cold. In the events that follow, the little boy finds out that 786 is Allah’s number. He decides to give Allah a ring and ask him for what he’s lost — his father, so everything can go back to the way it is. The story begins when Allah answers. On the other side is an ill-tempered CRPF jawan, Abhay, who resents Kashmiri insurgents. Somehow through these phone calls, both Hamid and Abhay find solace in each other.
The acting in this movie is what takes it a notch above. Rasika is amazing as Hamid’s mother and a wife searching for her missing husband. She makes Ishrat’s desperation and pain her own. Moreover, she nails the Kashmiri accent as well. Sumit Kaul as Hamid’s father also gives a noteworthy performance. Vikas Kumar is outstanding on screen as you see his character hold onto the last shred of humanity when you meet him. It is quite amazing to see him turn from angry CRPF jawan to a much more kinder acquaintance to the little boy. But who really stole the show is Talha Arshad Reshi. His acting even in scenes that are not his are piercing. His eyes tell the story of innocence, curiosity and mischief whenever it is necessary. His belief in Allah and his frustration when Allah can’t give his father back will break your heart.
Set in the scenic hills of Kashmir, it doesn’t run away from the violence that comes with the place. In fact, it shows the appeal of violence from the point of the army as well as the local people who are brainwashed to be jihadis. The idea of telling the whole story through the eyes of an 8-year-old boy is what makes it heartwarming yet so heart wrenching at the same time.
Hamid is originally based on Amin Bhatt‘s play Phone No. 786 and is wonderfully scripted for the screen by Ravinder Randhawa and Sumit Saxena. The writing is taut and keeps the viewer curious until the end. The direction by Aijaz Khan is flawless. He has let his actors do their thing and that is where he wins. Needless to say, each frame that is shot outside is breathtakingly beautiful and the cinematography by John Wilmor is amazing. The usage of colour in the movie is poignant and seamlessly lends to the tone of the movie.
Lastly, I’d like to say the movie has hit the screens at the perfect time. With our nation going through its own sense of struggle with violence at the borders, Hamid comes as a ray of hope.