It’s a project that’s been five years in the making. When she arrived in Kashmir in 2015, singer-songwriter Anushka Manchanda was struck by the overwhelming beauty of the land. She would return again, and then again during Chillai-Kalan, the ‘Big Winter’ to witness how the Valley embraces death so surreally. She has penned Kashmir as a love letter to the valley.
What inspired ‘Kashmir’?
Pure love. Kashmir moved me like no other place has. It feels like Mother Nature takes her most beautiful, magical form in the valley.
The film has some stunning shots from around Kashmir. Where is this from?
I shot this video in the same seasons over two years. Kashmir’s landscape changes almost every month, and since I had shot in Chillai-Kalan, the coldest time of the year, I had to return at the same time to keep the video in the same visual space. We drove from Srinagar to Gulmarg to Pahalgam, and stopped wherever the landscape inspired us, which was so often that a two-hour drive would take us six!
Tell us about the soundscape…
It’s an electronic, ambient sound, with folk percussion coming in as the track builds up. I did not know this is how it would turn out at the end. I reproduced the music multiple times because I felt I was not being able to match the beauty of the visuals and the experience I had there. The English lyrics you hear now came after my second trip, and they stayed. But until Khalid’s voice came in on the track, it never felt complete. I have Sufiyan [Malik] playing the Rabab, and also have a mix in Dolby Atmos which makes the entire experience of listening to the track immersive.
Is there a message? What would you like your listeners to take away from this film?
The Earth has taken care of us for so long, given us all we need and more. Now it is our turn to take care of her. If someone sees this film and feels more connected to the Earth, motivated to live a more harmonious life with her, I would know that I have accomplished a little bit of what I have set out to do as Nuka.
Any moments from your Kashmir travels that will last forever?
I saw a bear! It was 150 meters away from me, rubbing its back on a tree, like Balloo from The Jungle Book. I played it totally cool, kept calm, and my friend and I got away safely!