NRI Kashmiri director’s ‘Zero Bridge’ goes to Venice fest

August 10th, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 10 (IANS) “Zero Bridge”, a film by NRI Kashmiri filmmaker Tariq Tapa, is the only movie by a director with Indian links to be screened at the 65th Venice International Film Festival, starting Aug 27. Tapa shot the 93-minute Indo-US coproduction entirely in Srinagar.

Tapa has been making short movies in the US ever since he graduated from the Rice University in English and French and later obtained a degree in filmmaking from the California Institute for the Arts in 2003. “Zero Bridge”, on the common people of Kashmir, is his first full-length movie.

“I came to India on a Fulbright scholarship in 2006 to make a movie on Kashmir. I made ‘Zero Bridge’ almost single-handedly,” Tapa told the media in Mumbai.

He said he decided to make the movie on Kashmiris because, having the same roots he could understand the hopes and aspirations of the residents of the state.

“The West’s understanding of Kashmir is partial and Bollywood uses Kashmir only as an exotic backdrop,” he said.

“Zero Bridge”, which Tapa has written, produced, directed and co-edited, is about a teenage pickpocket who goes astray to avoid his disciplinarian uncle’s strict routine.

But his wayward life takes a positive turn after he meets a woman whose life he had ruined with his irresponsible acts.

Tapa said he had initially written a 140-page screenplay for the movie, but could not execute it because none of the actors, all first-timers from Kashmir, could follow it.

“So I kept my screenplay away and explained to them the movie’s important scenes and gave them simple dialogue to deliver. The result was that, though they were all novices, they ended up giving their natural performances,” he said.

But for Tapa, shooting in Srinagar had not been smooth sailing because soon after he started filming, a rumour went round that he was making a pornographic movie, and police picked him up for questioning.

“I was detained in the police station before I could convince the officers that I was innocent, No, I was not bitter. But the episode is a troubling reminder of how fragile the social structure has become in Kashmir after years of unrest,” he said.

Tapa said that he would shoot another movie in Srinagar in 2010.

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