At the trailer launch of his upcoming film “Shikara: The Untold Story of Kashmiri Pandits“, filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra said he condemns all kinds of violence — the one that is taking place today, and the one that happened in Kashmir 30 years ago.
Chopra was referring to the horrific Kashmiri Pandit exodus from Kashmir that happened on January 19, 1990, which is the subject of his new film.
The trailer launch on Tuesday, incidentally, saw a rare appearance by AR Rahman, who has scored the music of the film, along with the cast.
Speaking to the media at the event, Chopra gave his reaction on the Kashmir exodus as well as the ongoing violent attacks on students across the nation.
“I condemn all violence and I am not saying this for the sake of it. I condemn the violence which took place 30 years ago and I condemn the violence which is taking place today. But somewhere deep down in my heart there is this hopeful individual — maybe because I am from Kashmir and attached to poetry. I feel that someday this icy mountain will melt, the snow will be gone and there will be spring. I am saying this with all honesty. I am hopeful that someday soon there will be the blooming of India for each one of us,” said Chopra.
The film marks the return of Vidhu Vinod Chopra to direction in India after 13 years. His last directorial feature film was “Eklavya: The Royal Guard” in 2007. “Shikara” addresses the issue of ethnic cleansing and riots that took place in 1989 in Kashmir, and in recent times when Article 370 was abolished.
“This is a story about a Kashmiri Pandit couple, some 30 years ago. Their story starts in 1987 when everything was fine. From 1989 till today, it has been that couple’s story. It is the story of their 30 years’ journey and the story of India as well. It took me a lot of time and effort to make this film, and it is the story of all those people who have been refugees in their own country over the last three decades,” he added.
Bollywood has always shied away from making mainstream cinema addressing the plight of Kashmiri Pandits.
Asked if Bollywood has been unfair in its approach in regard to Kashmir, Chopra said: “I have a very close relationship with Bollywood. I certainly belong to Bollywood but I am a Kashmiri. I hardly ever go out, and as most people know I don’t even go anywhere to collect my awards. So what they (the rest of Bollywood) are doing and what is happening in their lives, or what kind of cinema they are making, are things I really cannot talk about. I am happy in my house, and they are happy in their houses. I have made the film and that is all I can say.”
“Shikara: The Untold Story of Kashmiri Pandits” is produced and directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The music is composed by A.R. Rahman. The film releases on February 7.