New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) On a chilly January 19 in 1990, Kashmiri Pandits witnessed a horrific genocide that led to their exodus from the Kashmir Valley. Thirty years later, filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who hails from Srinagar, is set to give a glimpse of what had happened to his home state and its people during that fateful tragedy and its aftermath, through his upcoming film “Shikara: A love Letter From Kashmir”.
“Shikara” is touted as a “story of resilience in the face of insurmountable odds. It’s also the story of a love that remains unextinguished through 30 years of exile. A timeless love story in the worst of times”.
Rahul Pandita, author of the book, “Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus Of Kashmiri Pandits”, has turned Bollywood screenwriter for “Shikara: A love Letter From Kashmir”.
In his book, Rahul has written about the hardships faced by Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to leave the Kashmir Valley as a result of being targeted by Islamist militant groups in nineties.
It is said the film will not be entirely adapted from the book. The makers have taken the route of a love story to highlight the tragedy witnessed by Kashmiri Pandits 30 years ago.
Rahul, who has himself been a victim of that exodus, had launched his book in 2013. Chopra was in attendance at the event back then.
The film is clearly very close to Chopra, who will be donning the director’s hat after his directorial “Eklavya: The Royal Guard” that had hit the screens in 2007.
The “3 Idiots” producer has directed, edited and produced “Shikara” in association with Fox Star Studios.
Its trailer will be out on January 7, and its motion poster has already made the right noise.
The makers of the film had released the official motion poster on YouTube last month, describing what happened to Kashmiri Pandits 30 years ago.
“What is it to know the agony of being a refugee in your own country? The year 1990 saw the biggest forced migration in independent India whereby more than 4,00,000 Kashmiri Pandits had to flee from the Kashmir Valley,” the makers had captioned the 37 second-long video.
Not much is known about the film including its cast, though it is believed that music maestro AR Rahman, who had also tweeted the motion poster in December, will give music to it.
One netizen commented: “@VVCFilms is making film on Exodus of kashmiri pandits. A big director.. hopefully now Bollywood will listen and talk about it… #Shikara.”
Another wrote: “#vidhuvinodchopra Hats off to you for highlighting the cause of Kashmiri Pandit and sending the message to Crores of people of unheard voice of #KashmiriPandits.”
Another netizen felt that for the first time Bollywood has shown “courage to show the whole world the reality of Kashmiri Pundits Genocide”.
One got emotional and wrote: “As a Kashmiri Pandit displaced abroad, it is already immensely overwhelming and even triggering to see the imagery in this teaser release. To have my community’s story be acknowledged, validated, and represented means the world. Growing up watching Gujaratis and Punjabis and the like have a home state to go back to and a language to pass on to their children has been sobering, knowing my people would never achieve the same feeling of belonging.
“Watching this I am somber and angry and thankful all at once for the choice to finally tell this story after so many reparation-less years. I pitched this story to directors like Nandita Das and Hansal Mehta and they all agreed it needed to be told but no one could fathom making it a reality. Thank you, Mr. Chopra, FoxStarHindi, and the entire cast and crew of Shikara for putting your necks on the line and making this incredibly brave move.”
Chopra had also shared a few insights and images of his house and others in Kashmir. He also used the platform to show what the houses now looked like — ruined and empty.
“Shikara” is set to hit the theatres on February 7, 2020.
Vivek Agnihotri is another filmmaker who wants to present the unreported history of Kashmiri Hindus in his upcoming film, “The Kashmir Files”.
“Kashmiri Hindus were literally butchered, raped and made homeless. It is one of the most tragic genocides in Indian history but is absent from our history and our consciousness. All I want to achieve is to present the unreported history of Kashmiri Hindus,” Agnihotri had told IANS, adding: “I believe artists owe it to society which consumes their work. It’s unbelievable that there are so many films on Kashmir but not even one on the misery, pain and loss of the (state’s) Hindu minority.”
“The Kashmir Files”, based on the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus, is scheduled to hit screens in August 2020.