Zero Bridge: Poetic Neorealism in Beleaguered Kashmir
Made for a song with a non-pro cast and DV camera gear out of his backpack, Tariq Tapas debut feature shows the young Kashmiri-American as a filmmaker of enormous promise and precocious maturity. You wont see terrorists, rebels, or Bollywood numbers in Zero Bridge, only close attention to telling quotidian detail as we discover the beleaguered state of Kashmir through the eyes of Dilawar (played by Tapas cousin, Mohamad Imran Tapa), a teenage pickpocket whose virile beak of a nose belies his tender years. Dilawar is a dreamer and a would-be runaway, but like his home statehaplessly carved up between India and Pakistanhes an orphan, stranded between the strict uncle (Ali Mohammad Dar) who exploits his labor and the rigors of an underground economy governed by parasitic mutual betrayal. He grows close to Bani (the stunning Taniya Khan), the more educated but equally trapped young woman whose passport he stole. Seen with a tripod camera, Bani is all serene resignation, while Dilawar, tracked by a jittery handheld, is a termite trying to burrow his way out of one hole after another. Tapas poetic neorealism is less a stylistic intrusion than a keeping of faith, through the films deliberately uneven pacing, with a life devoid of rhythms to count on.
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