They decided to take local theatre artists for some re-construction that needed to be done of a couple of case studies.
In her script, Snigdha was being very careful not to portray the militants in poor light, rather they were shown on neutral grounds, and truth about what they have been doing, why they are fighting for the freedom of Kashmir, why they have been resorting to violence and what is theirmodus operandi coming out through their interviews. Snigdha was fully aware that these facts coming out of the mouths of the ‘militants’ or ‘terrorists’ as they were called by world at large and ‘Jihadis’ or ‘freedom fighters’ as they were called by themselves would add weight and umbrage to her film. It was this strategy that prompted Snigdha to add loads of live and spot interviews of surrendered militants, candid shots of their camps and visuals of the villages where some of the victims lived and agreed to appear before camera. This aspect of her script had attracted Triple Eye as they wanted to be the first to have a realistic story on such a boiling subject. The fact that it was going to be a dangerous venture had prompted them to seek security from the police and army and cover from the local social activists.
The team had discussed the danger of shooting in certain militant areas which they were supposed to avoid and had finally decided to first finish the interviews and other establishing scenes of Srinagar and then move on to highly disturbed places like Uri in Baramulla, Bandipura, Pulwama and Khilanmarg. Shuttling constantly between Triple Eye Office and her place of work, Snigdha had to deal with different types of people during her preparation. Some were not convinced of a scene here and there and needed a lot of explanation on her part to convince them of the relevance of it as per the story. Few locations had to be scrapped due to safety reasons. And team had to be made as compact as possible so that a big crowd would not go for the shoot lest it attracted too much attention and posed a danger for them.
It was decided that the team of eight comprising Nitin, Tripti, Dimple, Ruby, Srinivasan, the cinematographer and his attendant who would be handling both light and sound and finally Snigdha would go to Jammu by the Rajdhani Express appearing like regular tourists where they will be received by a well-equipped van that would take them to their destination in Srinagar. The high-end digital cameras, the expensive lenses, lights and other accessories were all packed in specially designed fibre boxes for safety. Snigdha had not compromised in the selection of the equipment as she knew that her film might get a bigger and wider audience if it is nominated for the famous film festivals in Cannes, Toronto or LA. She wanted her film’s cinematography to be of top class and hired one of the best Directors of Photography of New Delhi who excelled in documentary shoot. Packing a small backpack with space for holding more than it was possible, Snigdha was travelling light. Just a few pairs of denims, thick full sleeved sweatshirts, woollen Phirans, warm cotswoolsalwars, some pullovers and her long coat. She didn’t need any fancy clothes in this challenging job. She threw in a sturdy pair of sneakers and many pairs of socks. She remembered to take thermal innerwear too. After keeping her toiletteries and a small first-aid kit, she settled down on her cushy cane sofa, with a bowl of steaming chicken noodle soup and picked up her cell-phone to talk to her Mom.
‘Mum, how are you all? Is everyone there with you? Didi, Bhaiya… ?’ Snigdha knew her siblings usually visited her parents at this time of the year because of the vacations for the festivals spotting October onwards.
‘We are fine. The weather has improved, with October ending. Your sister is here with the kids but your Jijajicould not come. Sumit is coming tomorrow.’ Her Mom said.
‘Mom, I am leaving tomorrow.’ Snigdha blurted out hurriedly. Her Mom had not been too pleased with her announcement a few weeks ago about her impending Kashmir shoot.
Her Mom sighed and said in a resigned voice, ‘Well all of you are grown ups and do not listen to everything we tell you, so I won’t waste my breath. But take care of yourself. And don’t forget to meet Colonel Rashid. He’s been an old friend of your father and will help you regarding anything. And Beta, I’ve heard that no cellular network works there except the local network?’ Snigdha could hear a hint of worry in her Mom’s wobbly voice.
‘Everything will be fine Mom. I am going with a team of eight people, amongst which four are men. And Dimple is with me Mom. I will take a local cell number as soon as I reach Srinagar and share that number with you. Don’t worry, Ma.’ Snigdha’s throat clogged with emotions and Ma slipped from her mouth as it happened whenever she got emotional. There was silence at the other end, then a soft sniff indicated that her Mom was equally emotional.
‘Chalo Mom, let me talk to Dad now otherwise he will complain that we don’t give him any importance.’ She laughed trying to ignore her eyes prickly with tears. No point convincing her soft-hearted, traditional mother about this burning ambition within her to do something different and extraordinary, like this film on Kashmiri militants.