Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra is known for his storytelling and the art of building characters. The filmmaker is now returning to the big screen with his token of love to Kashmir in the film Shikara.

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The director in an exclusive interview with Koimoi spoke about the reason why he made the film, what he feels about releasing it in a period of political imbalance and whether there is an agenda to it.

Considering the current scenario, do you think this is the right time to release a film on an incident from the history that had a huge impact?

The movie has been ready for over 6 months and we had intended to release in November but due to the 370 abrogation, I delayed it because I did not want to look like I am exploiting the situation. It is a very intense film which tells a story about the atrocities and injustice done to Kashmiri Pandits and I want people to see it without any prejudices.

EXCLUSIVE! Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra On Shikara: “The Only Agenda That The Movie Has Is To Tell The Truth”
EXCLUSIVE! Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra On Shikara: “The Only Agenda That The Movie Has Is To Tell The Truth”

You are connected to the story on a personal level. But with an objective approach as a director what part of this story attracted you the most?

I started work on this post my mother’s demise in 2007. The Kashmiri Pandit exodus is a known issue but the complexities and the build-up of events which led to the driving away of the Kashmiri Pandits is not known. This movie required significant research so that we could tell an absorbing story which is fact-based and helps in bringing this conversation to the fore.

I have done much work in those years but this was perhaps my most challenging as I had to remain dispassionate as a moviemaker to depict the truth and yet make a compelling argument that the only solution to such hatred is love and that is at the centre of my movie.

The love between Shiv Kumar Dhar & Shanti Dhar (the chief protagonists – Shanti is also my mother’s name, by the way) is a binding factor which forces us to think beyond hatred. The shoot was mostly in Kashmir which was under heavy security cover so we had limited time to get work done. Authenticity was the key. The writing also took significant time as I had to sift through tons of documentation and video footage to bring reality to celluloid.

Working with the actual Kashmiri Pandit inhabitants from the Jagti Refugee Camp was probably my most cherished & satisfying moment.

While the trailer is being praised, there is also a section that calls it an agenda film, your thoughts?

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The only agenda that the movie has is, to tell the truth about the atrocities and the injustice done to the Kashmiri Pandits. It also asks relevant questions on the sheer apathy and neglect of the subsequent regimes in solving the issue. I only hope that people see this movie which leads to a dialogue to get Kashmiri Pandits back to their rightful homes.

Will we see Vidhu Vinod Chopra venturing into this genre more often or was this the only story that has been with you?

For me, the story and the concept has to be compelling. I’ve not restricted myself to specific genres and you’ll see that throughout my body of work over the last 40 years.

Are we getting a Munna Bhai sequel? If yes, when?

Yes, very soon.

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