After being accused of commercialising the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, which happened during late 1989 and early 1990, through his latest directorial Shikara, filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra on Sunday penned an open letter, elaborating the sufferings he along with his family members had to face when they were driven out of their homeland as a result of being targeted by Islamist insurgents three decades ago.
Addressing the letter to ‘young Indians’, Chopra took to Facebook and wrote: “The recent incidents related to ‘Shikara’ have deeply disturbed me. I am an affected Kashmiri Hindu. My house in Kashmir was ransacked and my family members attacked. My mother who came with a small suitcase to Bombay for the premiere of ‘Parinda‘ (1989) could not go back home – she died in exile in Mumbai.
“While most of you know me for producing films like ‘Munnabhai’ and ‘3 Idiots’, I’ve actually been making films for the last 40 years – my first short film was nominated for an Oscar in 1979. My journey in cinema has been extremely satisfying and I have never felt even an iota of doubt in my mind that I ever strayed from the commandments of the iconic filmmaker Ingmar Bergman who said that Thou Shalt Entertain but that Thou Shalt Entertain Without Selling Your Soul.”
Chopra described the accusations as “nonsensical”.
He added: “Now I’m being accused of selling my soul, of commercialising the subject of Kashmiri Pandits. It’s a nonsensical accusation because if I wanted to make money I would have made the sequel to ‘Munnabhai’ or ‘3 Idiots’. But the reason I made ‘Shikara’ is because I have witnessed first hand what the loss of a home means. And because most of you are unaware of the extent of our tragedy. You weren’t even born when we were thrown out of our homeland in 1990. And if you don’t know history, you will be condemned to repeat it.”
Chopra also urged people to not repeat the past events.
“The movie (Shikara) is my truth. It’s is my mother’s truth. It’s my co-writer Rahul Pandita’s truth. This is the truth of a community which despite going through such trauma did not pick up a gun or spread hate. ‘Shikara’ is an attempt to do the same – to speak of unimaginable pain without sowing the seeds of violence and animosity. And to begin a conversation that will hopefully enable Kashmiri Pandits to return to Kashmir.
“Violence will only beget violence. I have seen my home destroyed by hate. Do not let it consume you. I want you to have a future that is different from my past,” he concluded.