Shikara made by producer/director Vidhu Vinod Chopra on the plight of displaced Kashmiri Hindu Pandits, is perhaps his first movie on this subject in recent past. The untold story of Kashmiri Pandits attracted controversy at its screening in Delhi. A woman belonging to the Kashmiri Pandit community broke down after watching the film and lashed out at the director for “commercialising the plight of Kashmiri Pandits.”
After the film ended, Chopra came to interact with the audience when the woman started shouting at him. The video of the woman lashing out at the director has gone viral on the social media. According to the woman, Shikara doesn’t portray the actual sufferings of the community including the genocide, mass rapes and mass murders committed by Islamic radical groups. She said that Chopra polarised the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits. To condole the lady, Chopra said that he would work on the sequel to the film. He said, “Truth has two faces. People have different perspectives on the same issues.”
Shikara is a story about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and draws its inspiration from several sources. Apart from that, Rahul Pandita’s brilliant book, ‘Our Moon Has Blood Clots’ is a significant resource for the film. It is a very well-researched documentation on what led to the Kashmiri Pandit exodus and the apathy and neglect of the Kashmiri Pandit families for all these years. They have also used details from actual Pandit family experiences and their plights living in Jagti refugee camp. It has taken him eleven years to tell this story and is a combination of a significantly large amount of people who have been part of the process. Although Bollywood has always been accused of maligning Hindu dharma for a long time for example in Amar Akbar Anthony the Hindu father abandons all the kids and a Muslim and Christian adopt the children. But the message was little ambiguous as only a few could understand the analogy. But things changed abruptly when D – company started ruling Bollywood directly. They started financing movies and extorting money from directors and producers.
Then came the era when Bollywood started attacking the Hindu dharma and left no stone unturned in glorifying Islam. For example the Hindu Pandit or Hindu Baniya used to be a cruel and miser while Raheem Chacha or Abdul were portrayed as saints. In most of the films, Hindu community people were portrayed as bigots and kattar(s) while Muslims of Pakistan were showed as liberals and samaritans. Hindus are very well divided into different castes, creed and races. Some are Rajput, some Guptas while some are Pandits. Remain divided and scattered until they destroy the oldest civilisation of the globe in front of you and out rule you because Hindus are over tolerant.
Now coming back to Vidhu Vinod Chopra, he is one of India’s finest directors who has directed Shikara. One can see that the one Kashmiri woman was upset with what she termed as the commercialism of Shikara and that she disowned the movie. She seemed to be particularly upset with Chopra’s decision to cast two Muslim actors as the lead Hindu Pandit characters. May be some wounds cut too deep for her. At the same time, it’s unfair and wrong to term Vidhu Vinod Chopra as Hindu phobic just because one person didn’t like the movie. The exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits which is a chronicle written by a Kashmiri Pandit author Rahul Pandita. So, it’s not like Chopra crafted the movie out of thin air. He’s mostly based the movie off of another person’s memoirs.
The audience conveniently forgot the fact that the movie might have been directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra but it’s already written by a Pandit of Kashmir. Chopra is possibly the first director in Bollywood to have even made a movie on the plight of the evacuated Kashmiri Hindu Pandits who became refugees in their own country. And if you note, his own mother was one among the many Kashmiris who could never go home while she was alive. So, it’s injustice to call him Hinduphobic. I can understand that woman’s pain too because she went through that tragic trauma. But there was no justification for her outburst. There is no crass commercialisation in Shikara – it is a sad story beautifully depicted and just makes you sad that so many people had to become refugees overnight. All thanks to the incompetent and useless Prime Minister at the time – if India had competent rulers and government at the time, this tragedy would perhaps have never unfolded.
Our Moon Has Blood Clots, the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits that was journalist Rahul Pandita’s memoirs of his family’s flight from the Muslim-dominated valley during the onset of the violent insurgency. It is a common lament of refugees trying to reclaim a happier past that is cruelly and irredeemably lost. Squeezed out by the pain, drudgery and hardship of exile, the homemaker withers away. Her son, the author, picks up the pieces in this account of his family, one of thousands who were forced into exile. In remembrance lies redemption. So this is a timely memoir about the often ignored and “unfashionable” story of the purge of a thriving minority community backed by Islamist militants in Kashmir. All those attacking Vidhu Vinod Chopra need to really retrospect as to how genuine is their outcry?
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