Cast: Aadil Khan, Sadia
Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
It has been 30 years since the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits when more than four lakh homeless families. Mrs. filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra were also among those who were never able to return to Kashmir. Using a cinematic sensibility to tell this tragic story, the latest director Chopra venture, set in a beautiful Shikara Kashmir Valley – snow-capped mountains, tall pine trees, the scenery and local flavor in abundance. This film does not boast a striking cast and starring two fresh faces instead – Aadil Khan and Sadia. This, however, turned out to be his strength, as a partner providing the convincing performance.
Many may feel the film is the safest and most restrained works Chopra, more because it was the closest to his heart and rather define existence. But, one can not overlook the heart and soul he has put into this film – a slice-of-life or leaves directly from his own family’s tragic past – and with every frame, you feel the pain he wanted to show. Although the filmmakers again choose to call it a ‘fiction’, it is heartwarming to see how he continues to tangible things that he can bring real refugees who fled when this happened three decades ago.
Shikara is a love story at heart, but in a way that most captivating and moving. However, whatever happens in between – the exodus of Kashmiri Pandit – tragic chapter in history that will hurt every time it is touched. The film starts today with the lead partner in their late 50s and then the majority of which is seen in a flashback. Shiv Kumar Dhar (Aadil) and Shanti (Sadia) happened to fall in love at first sight when making an impromptu cameo for the film Love in action shot in Kashmir Valley. Soon, they had a traditional Kashmiri wedding style with musical instruments and dance area reduces mood. There are times when soft as the couple set up their new home and it Shikara names for a reason, Sadia express himself dream of seeing the Taj Mahal one day when Shiv aspires to complete his PhD.
But all this was short lived as the insurgency and communal tensions disrupt the lives of Kashmiri Hindu and Muslim happy and arbitrary killings started mostly targeted Pandit, forcing them to leave their homes. Join thousands of others, Shiv and Shanti also leave the neighborhood and move them to a refugee camp in Jammu, and lived there for many years.
The scene in refugee camps sad and heartbreaking, and catch the pain. Especially the scene when a truck full of tomatoes arrive and everyone across age groups rushed to take some of them make you teary-eyed. Or the scene when an old man kept pleading and shouting that he wanted to return to Kashmir evoke empathy. Chopra has been beautifully and convincingly demonstrate the helplessness of IDPs with Shiv relentless wrote a letter to US President – from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama – for 28 years, and even when he knows he will not get a reply, he did not lose hope.
While writing and direction is definitely a strong point, it is pitch perfect performance that makes all the difference. However, I still felt the story could have been much stronger for it based on the topic. Shikara, in part, seemed rushed and at times when tensions began to affect you emotionally, the story rushed back to show you the love story of a couple lead.
Background score by A R Rahman and Minar-E-Kripa add life to the film, and ably supported by lyrics Irshad Kamil.