Vidhu Vinod Chopra at Shikara Trailer launch
Vidhu Vinod Chopra at Shikara Trailer launch

Legend has it that public protests can make or break a government and one such mass scale protest which is getting a lot of media light these days is the one going on for over a month now at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh; where a number of old ladies have sat together to raise their voice against the recently enacted Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.

The place has epitomized the way of protesting and now filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who recently fell prey to #BoycottShikara trend on Twitter, spoke at length about his upcoming release based on the Kashmiri Pandit exodus which happened about 30 years ago and said that "there needs to be a Shaheen Bagh for Kashmiri Pandits as well."

He made the statement at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival where he shared the subject of his upcoming film 'Shikara' which is based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. It stars Sadia and Aadil Khan in lead roles and is set to open together with Mohit Suri's 'Malang' on 7 February.

A still from Shikara
A still from Shikara

Why he made 'Shikara'?

The 67-year-old filmmaker has brought to screen numerous films which had a subject usually not discussed openly in societies like the 2019 release 'Ek Ladki ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga' which starred Sonam Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao. Talking about his next project and why he chose to create a picture on the lives of Kashmiri pandits, he said, "My childhood was spent in Kashmir, it can never be away from me. Now is the time to raise an alarm in Parliament on the question of Pandits."

He added, "People who killed us, cannot say sorry and move on. I wanted people (our friends and neighbours) who didn't help us to say sorry for not standing by us."

While the film opened to mixed reactions at its screening, Twitterati didn't seem convinced and thus started the #BoycottShikara trend a few days back. It was at the special screening of the film that Vidhu had said that almost half of his crew on the film were Muslims and worked on the film despite knowing the plot. He said that the film was made with an attempt to heal the fight between two friends.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra with Shikara's lead

Discussing the reactions his film has received, Vidhu expressed, "After watching the film the kids asked me, is this what really happened? My heart broke. They had no idea of what happened to their parents. Our culture is finished. When I went to Jagti camp and spoke to kids in Kashmiri they responded to me in Dogri."

Applauds govt for abrogating Article 370

While Kashmir has always been in turmoil ever since India and Pakistan became two independent nations, the recent abrogation of article 370 by the government last year was hailed as a courageous step by the filmmaker.

He said, "Govt has shown courage and removed it, but I wanna see what happens now." He also said that Kashmiri Pandits deserved something alike to what's being witnessed at Shaheen Bagh saying, "There needs to be a Shaheen Bagh for Pandits aa well."

Shikara poster

'Shikara' is a story of around 4, 00,000 Kashmiri Pandits and their exodus from Kashmir that took place way back in 1990. It has been largely shot in Kashmir. The film is being promoted as a story of a love that remains unextinguished through 30 years of exile.