Ashvin Kumar’s ‘Inshallah, Football’ is an engrossing and powerfully told documentary film about contemporary Kashmir.
Its focus is a young Kashmiri footballer, Basharat, who is deemed good enough to play in Brazil … but can’t get an Indian passport, because his father was a leading militant in his youth.
The film takes in everything from the routine torture of young Kashmiris in the 1990s, to dating Kashmiri-style in (if I’ve got this right) the Arabica coffee bar at the Broadway hotel. The story is about the misery of contemporary Kashmir – but it also takes in the remarkable story of Bashir Baba, Basharat’s father, who was a key Hizbul militant, was caught and tortured, and is now both a prominent Kashmiri businessman and reconciled to his torturer … and the Argentinian-Brazilian couple, Juan and Priscla, who settled in Srinagar, set up a football academy, and became inspirations to dozens of young Kashmiris.
The film ends with Basharat getting his passport and waiting for his visa for Brazil, but the soccer academy threatened with closure because its founders’ Indian visas are not being renewed. That was in late 2009. So what’s happened since? Well, from a brief tour round the internet: the good news – Juan and Priscla are still in Kashmir and their soccer academy appears to be going strong; on the other hand, to judge by his Facebook page, Basharat is not in Sao Paulo these days but still in Srinagar.
I suppose that’s a score draw – a better result than Kashmir usually gets.
LATER: I’ve now heard that Basharat did get to Brazil. By the time his visa came through, he was apparently too old to go as a player, but he went there for a few months last year to train as a coach. So the story has a happy ending for Basharat.
But less so for Juan and his soccer academy in Kashmir. There have been moves to impose a ban on his activities – this recent article from the Greater Kashmir newspaper explains more.
Source: Andrew Whitehead’s Blog