The Last Day – a film by Siddhartha Gigoo

In the winter of 1990, fearing religious persecution due to the eruption of armed insurgency, about four hundred thousand Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee their homes in Kashmir, India. Several thousand homeless families sought shelter in puny canvas tents set up in migrant camps in the Jammu province. They lived in wretched conditions for two decades, hoping to return to their homeland someday. In exile, many perished and those who survived have now been rehabilitated.

The last camp was demolished in 2011.

Set in 1994 in a camp for Kashmiri Pandit exiles, the film portrays four frayed lives in a scrawny 8 x 10 tent. Gossamer memories of a glorious past taunt their tawdry and uncertain present. An old patriarch (M L Saraf) is battling dementia on his deathbed. His wife (Bharati Zaroo) has lost the will to live. His son (M P Sharma) and daughter-in-law (Kusum Tiku) struggle for personal space. Will they ever find deliverance? Will they rediscover love? Will tomorrow be any different from today or yesterday?

The river has all the answers, yet flows, eternally silent.

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