I, like many others of my generation, grew up on an oily diet of Kashmir masala films.
Roja. Which, besides introducing this guy called A R Rahman, gave hope to boys like me that you could have a physique like ArvindSwamy but still get to curl your fingers around the shapely waist of a Madhu, if you play the marriage cards right or if the script-writer writes that in the script for you.
Pukaar. Where sinister plots from across the border are spoiled by Anil Kapoor’s verdant chest hair.
Mission Kashmir. A convicted Bombay Blast accused played a patriotic cop and where the man who single-handedly wiped out polio played a terrorist.
Countless other action films, their names a-blur, typically starring Sunny Deol, in which all laws of physics and common sense could be violated as long as Pakistani ass was being mausichi-ed.
The rhetoric was simple. Pakistan was evil, India was good, Kashmiris were misguided and all would be well in the end if the pesky Pakistanis and their agents were demolished.
When I came out of the theater after seeing Haider, I was happy I had seen a film that had flipped the formula. I was happy that finally the censors were letting audiences decide what was wrong and what was right and that there were no bans or stay-orders or any of the other silliness that has so stifled the free expression of ideas in India, a fact that was doubly surprising given that our wise mediwallahs had been prophesying a dystopian Hitlerian Bharat of suppress-oppress-depress ever since that man took over.