The 42-year-old Raja Shabir Khan is a well known name in film circles. With many national and international awards to his name, he has been into documentary filmmaking since he was in school.
Hailing from Chanapora area in Srinagar outskirts, Khan graduated from Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata. He says he has been inspired by his father, who is an art lover, into filmmaking.
“I did a three-year course in film-making in Kolkata, after which I visited Mumbai and took up a few assignments. But I always felt I should do more films back home and returned to the Valley,” he told Rising Kashmir.
Khan is currently in New Delhi in connection with his latest documentary on Kashmir “Rugby, Crows and Hijab”. The documentary is about fighting the odds, he added.
“Rugby is not only little heard about in Kashmir but is being looked down upon when played by girls.” He said around 2000-kilometres away from home, Kashmiri Rugby girls from the underprivileged class in Kolkata have a different kind of challenge to fight.
“Most of the girls come from marginalized families and their parents want them to get married early or to help them in daily household chores,” he said.
The film-maker, however, urged youth to dream big and achieve success. “There is no short-cut to success. It can only be achieved by hard work, determination and persistence,” he said.
He advised aspiring film-makers to focus more on content and script. ‘One can touch newer heights, if one is committed enough,” he added.
The 42-year-old has won the Best Non-Feature Film and Best Cinematography Awards in the 60th National Film Awards.
“I received the National Film Award by then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee for my film ‘Shepherds of Paradise’ which convinced me to do my future endeavours energetically,” he said.
The ‘Shepherds of Paradise’ was telecasted in Singapore, South Korea, the US, Japan besides people watched it in festivals held across the world. The film is about the struggle of nomadic life of shepherds (Bakerwals) of Kashmir to meet their ends.
While narrating the circumstances he faced during the movie, Khan said it was challenging for him to cross through the tough terrain, braving weather vagaries.
Khan was also widely hailed for his first independent documentary ‘Angels of Troubled Paradise’. The documentary tried to put forward the struggle of a kid who assembles scrap of tear smoke shells and sells it for earning his livelihood. The movie was telecasted in Tokyo, Singapore and also in many international festivals.
During school life, he directed and wrote a short film ‘Pagla Baba’ which won him the Bronze Remi Award in the World Film Festival 2007 in Houston Texas. His film ‘Banafshe’ was screened at Osian’s Film Festival in New Delhi and received wide acclaim and praise.
'Fear And Freedom’, ‘Vanishing Glaciers’, ‘Line of Control’, ‘The Last Hope’ are a few other documentaries he made.
Khan recently served as jury member in National Students Film Festival; and Himalayan Future Festival held in Ladakh.