Dear Masaba, Why Did You Film in Occupied Kashmir?
August 12, 2022.
Netflix’s Masaba Masaba released its 2nd season. While many are celebrating the representation of desi women the show provides, the fact that it is normalising india’s occupation of Kashmir is not being spoken about, so we wrote an open letter to Masaba addressing her normalisation campaign.
This letter does contain SPOILERS but not the kind you’re thinking of.
Season 2 of your show is out. Congrats.
Two episodes are filmed in Kashmir. It must have been nice for you to visit and shoot here, right? Except, sorry you spent a whole episode trying to find signal. Surely you should know that your SIM cards don’t work in our occupied territory. Or did you happen to visit during the longest ever communication blackout? I couldn’t get in touch with most of my family and friends that time — my grandfather had passed away and I didn’t know for days.
But I digress.
Aside from making a basic geographic mistake (Gulmarg is not Patnitop), did you know that you are contributing to India’s settler- colonial project in Kashmir?
You see, Kashmir is not your holiday destination, or your remote getaway from your hectic, busy life in India. It’s not the place where you get an accidental kiss from your “Kashmiri” love interest who fondly remembers his childhood in Kashmir spent frolicking with his cousins (judging from his age, his cousins would have been tortured in Papa 2 — a notorious torture center, and many of them would have been disappeared or killed in a massacre by your army). It is certainly not the place where you get your mental clarity on your life problems and decide to relax and enjoy your shikara ride and live life to the fullest.
It is a real place, with real people who have been living under and resisting your country’s brutal military occupation for 75 years and counting.
When you film your show in our homeland, showcasing its majestic beauty, you are contributing to a long trope in Bollywood and in Indian cinema about Kashmir. I am actually shocked that you managed to film so much without any hint of your country’s military occupation. Not one soldier, not one bunker, not one checkpoint. Imagine that! I can’t even leave my street without having the barrel of one of your soldiers’ guns pointing at my head.
You are contributing to the production of Kashmir as a “territory of desire” — a place where your Indian metropolitan, colonial fantasies can be fulfilled. Right now the Indian government is urging its citizens, businesses, and entertainment industry to invest in Kashmir. It wants to change the demographics of the population from a Muslim-majority to a Hindu-majority. It wants to completely quash our right to self-determination. Did you know we are under genocide watch? You could have gone anywhere in YOUR country — why did you shoot in Kashmir?
We know (and you know) that the broader aim behind your coming to shoot in Kashmir is to continue to claim Kashmir as your own, to continue to force Kashmir to be a part of your nationalist imagination. People will see your show, remark on the ‘beauty’ of Kashmir, and want to visit it, perpetuating the cycle of Indian nationalist desire and violent claims over Kashmir. Your country uses both its cameras and its guns against us.
Right now, Kashmiris are being hounded for everything. They are being detained, arrested, killed and silenced.
And why? Because they do not and have not ever seen themselves as Indian.
In case you don’t believe me, ask your father. He was in Kashmir in 1983, during the first (and last!) ever international cricket match in Srinagar. The West Indies was playing against India. Their players were shocked that the crowd, supposedly in Indian “territory”, booed the Indian team and cheered on the West Indies team!
You seem to be all about women’s empowerment? Tell us — what do you think of consent? Consider this: India’s colonial presence subjugates, suppresses, and represses the people of Kashmir- men, women, children, the old, and the young. Kashmiris have never given their consent to India. Would you force a woman to marry someone she had NO interest in? Sorry to make it so simple for you, but since the whole show was about a wedding, I thought the analogy was apt.
I know, like many of your friends, family and colleagues, you will never even dare to understand our story, our narrative, our pain, and our demands for freedom.
But can you leave us the f**k alone?
A not-so-blue-eyed-rosy-cheeked Kashmiri living under Indian colonization.
Stay in touch with Stand with Kashmir.
Stand With Kashmir (SWK) is a Kashmiri-driven independent, transnational, grassroots movement committed to standing in solidarity with the people of indian-occupied Kashmir in ending the indian occupation of their homeland and supporting the right to self-determination of the pre-partition state of Jammu and Kashmir. We want to hear from you.If you have general inquiries, suggestions, or concerns, please email us at email@example.com.