Shikara : Poignantly beautiful tale of love

SHIKARA movie review is here. Directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the movie is based on the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits) from Kashmir. The movie has been released today – February 07, 2020. Does SHIKARA sails through with the valley of emotions as expected?, Let’s find out in the movie review of SHIKARA.

Immediate reaction when the end credits roll
From 1994 ( 1942: A LOVE STORY)  to 2020 (SHIKARA), the prolific Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s picturesquely poetic way of telling a love story remains intact.

The Story of SHIKARA
Based on the most inhuman incident in India when thousands of Kashmiri Hindus (pandits) were forced to evacuate their homes by the separatists group who are against the Indian government. SHIKARA is the story of Shiv (Aadil Khan) and Shanti (Sadia) who meet during a film shoot and luckily get casted as a Kashmiri couple walking hand in hand in the backdrop.

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Sparks fly between them and love blossoms resulting in a traditional Kashmiri marriage. But the happiness doesn’t last long as the separatists group takes over the charge of the valley in their unholy demands using religion. Shiv and Shanti are forced to leave their home – named SHIKARA – Shiv’s book. Shiv and Shanti start staying at a refugee camp along with thousands of Kashmiri Pandits. Rest is how Shiv and Shanti survive against all odds becoming pillars of support for each other, pinned with a common hope that one day they will return back to their home and homeland – Kashmir.

SHIKARA movie review
SHIKARA could have been a masterpiece on the lines of Polanksi’s THE PIANIST or Kate Winslet’s starrer THE READER,  the movie is on Vinod Chopra’s favorite format – love at volatile times, when the nation/city is burning or going through a political turmoil. The basic premise of 1942: A LOVE STORY and MISSION KASHMIR are similar to SHIKARA.

But when are told that it’s a personal story and the filmmaker himself says that its inspired by her mother’s zest to return to her home  in Kashmir, makes us more anxious and we expect some fine, deep penetrating insight into that pro-independence movement that targeted Kashmiri Pandits but unfortunately we get an attempt to paint the gross inhuman concerns and the murder of the beauty of the valley – the slow death of the so called heaven – Kashmir by a routine fictional love story that prefers to be politically ignorant and naïve on the reasons behind the evacuation. How and why the system and the attempts of Kashmiri Pandits repeatedly faced failures in their comeback attempt. How people like Shiv and Shanti actually survived and how some of them manage to leave the refugee camp and moved on successfully in other parts of India/world.

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The movie takes sudden jumps in period, a scene from 2002 immediately follows with a shot taken in 2008. We see Shiv typing letters to the President of USA as he thinks those American weapons are the main culprit. The way the script by Rahul Pandita and Abhijat Joshi deals with the story of director Vidhu Vinod Chopra based on the evacuation of Kashmiri Hindus is clumsy when it comes to the history/politics part and takes just a scratching of surface approach. It expects the sweet romantic dew to manipulate the audience and make them forget about the pain and suffering.  

Though the scene during the evacuation when the calf is left behind as a rally of trucks filled with people and belongings in the picturesque Kashmiri road passes by stays with you, its metaphoric and we expected a couple of more strong cinematic statements from the prolific Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

However, as a love story, SHIKARA scores some soothing poetic notes, the chemistry between Aadil Khan and Shanti is beautiful. They share a couple of poignantly poetic and genuinely beautiful moments. Needless to add Vidhu Vinod Chopra gets the Kashmiri milieu and settings straight from a Kashmiri house into the silver screen.

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The performance by the lead Aadil Khan and Sadia is arresting, Rangarajan Ramabran camera work is pure magic.

On the music front, “Ae Wadi Shehzadi” written by Irshad Kamil and composed by Sandesh Shandilya and sung by Papon and “Ghar Bhara Sa Lage” written by Irshad Kamil, composed by Sandesh Shandilya are soothingly touching. The background score by A. R. Rahman and Qutub-E-Kripa finds a rare indulgence of violin in some scenes and it’s mesmerizing.

Final words
The prolific Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s return after around five years (the forgettable misadventure (BROKEN HORSES – 2015) with SHIKARA is a beautifully shot and poignant love story with fine performances that could have been a compelling masterpiece but it unfortunately gives in to the conventional love story. Still going with a generous 3 stars – half extra for the love for Kashmir and with the hope that with the present situation where it’s now a Union Territory, Kashmiri Pandits will one day finally say Namashkar Mara to their neighbors from their home.

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Critic Rating
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