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Is The Indian Right Upset With ‘Shikara’ Makers For Not Whipping Up Hate?

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Last week, when Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Shikara released, a video reaction of Divya Razdan’s, (who posted it herself on her Twitter handle) went viral. She was seen loudly admonishing the filmmaker for incorrectly representing the Kashmiri Pandit exodus.

Rahul Pandita, on whose book, Our Moon Has Blood Clots this film is based and who co-wrote the film, said in an interview, “Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits gave a standing ovation after watching the movie. We never wanted to make a movie that stirred communal riots. The plight of Kashmiri Pandits was not compromised.”

However, following the release of the film the sharp attack on Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Pandita from the Indian right and media that is used by the right for propoganda and for ‘marking out’ enemies, such as OpIndia and Republic, have increased. The general consensus has been that the far right in India is upset that the film does not do enough to demonise Kashmiri Muslims.

Razdan wrote in OpIndia, “The biggest salt on our wounds was the selection of Muslim lead roles for the depiction of Kashmiri pandits plight… In the end, I just want to say, there was no Azaadi slogan shown and neither we Hindus have received any Azaadi from such people’s betrayal.”

Sushil Pandit reviewed the film for Republic and said, “…Shikara has not only airbrushed the horrors of our brutal cleansing from the Valley, it has been fairly inventive about its origins too.”

Chopra has written an open letter on his Facebook page, addressed to young Indians.

He says, “Taking a cue from Shiv Kumar Dhar, a Kashmiri Pandit refugee in my film Shikara who writes letters hoping that his voice will be heard, I’m writing this letter to you. You are the future of this country. Which is why I feel the need to have a conversation directly with you.”

Chopra writes that the recent incidents related to Shikara have deeply disturbed him. “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 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.”

“Now I’m being accused of selling my soul, of commercialising the subject of Kashmiri Pandits,” he adds, “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 says Shikara is his truth. His mother’s truth. And his 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.”

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