I send you my kind regards and I hope that you’re doing well. It is nice to know that you decided to bring forward the tale of the agony the Kashmiri Pandit community had to face as they were kicked out of their own homes, through your film ‘Shikara’. Having just watched it yesterday, I decided to have an honest conversation with you.
First of all, I must appreciate you for taking the step of covering an issue that had been left mostly untouched by most of the filmmakers in this nation. You chose to portray the sufferings of a community that was forced out of their own homes in a way that was reminiscent of the horrors faced by millions of Hindus and Sikhs, as they were kicked out of their homes in undivided Punjab and Bengal, now home to two nations – Pakistan and Bangladesh. You even went on to say through the posters of the film, that this film is “The Untold Story of Kashmiri Pandits.”
However, as an inquisitive Bharatiya, as well as a Hindu Brahmin, I have a few questions for you about your film ‘Shikara’, and going by your brilliant approach to sensitive issues and the right wit, I’m sure you have the apt intellect to answer my humble questions.
To begin with, you claimed in one of your interviews that this movie is an attempt to induce the healing touch, and let ‘Bygones be Bygones’. However, as far as I saw the movie, there was nothing that would even give a soothing relief to the agonizing burns suffered by the souls of millions of Kashmiri Pandits. Isn’t that unfair?
Forget showing the sufferings of the Kashmiri Pandit, you tried to legitimize the horrors perpetrated by the terrorists that once occupied the Valley, under the garb of persecution by the government. How, in any way, does this relate to the sufferings of the KP community? Would you portray the atrocities of the Nazi regime in the same way, romanticizing their brutalities as some sort of fallout between the Nazis and the Jews?
Elaborating on this angle, I witnessed that a cricketer, who happens to be the best friend of the protagonist, picks up arms, just because his father was killed in an alleged police crackdown. Hmmm, where have I heard this before? Oh yes, this is practically every Bollywood movie that ever cared to focus upon the issue of terrorism in Kashmir, including your own ‘Mission Kashmir’!
Have you considered the public to be ignorant till eternity? How is romanticizing Islamic terrorism of Kashmir Valley doing justice to the cause of the Kashmiri Pandits? Also, what’s your obsession of mocking anything even remotely related to the cause of Hindutva? How is the slogan of ‘Mandir Wahin Banayenge’ dividing people, as you portrayed in the movie?
If that is not all, here is something more. Forget showing the agony of the Kashmiri Pandits, you used the burning homes as a mere backdrop for your plot, as if they had not suffered anything at all. Imagine a movie on the Nazi infested Germany, without the incident of the Kristallnacht, without the mention of the Jews being evicted from their jobs, being forcefully sent to the concentration camps, no mention of how sadistic devils like Adolf Eichmann implemented the evil designs of the Third Reich in reality. If the Jews cannot tolerate such a movie on their sufferings, how you even to think to take the Kashmiri Pandits for granted?
If you wanted to show a love story, with the insurgency as a backdrop, I would’ve taken that for once. However, the way you showed that love story, I was once wondering if I was seeing a rerun of Kalank, with a different plot line. At that moment, I had had enough and left the hall, unable to digest the fact that you, of all people, had used the pain and torment the Kashmiri Pandit community faced for your own commercial interests, despite the fact that your own mother could never go back to her home in Srinagar.
However, your hypocrisy was exposed was when you mocked an agonized member of the Kashmiri Pandit community at a private screening. The way you interacted with her was enough to make even sane people shower torrents of abuses on you. What was so bad about the agony shown by the Kashmiri Pandit woman? Worse, you taunted her by saying that you’ll make Shikara 2 and asked for the crowd to applaud. Is there no limit to your shamelessness?
We’re not dumb enough to have forgotten your mockery of the genocide of the Kashmiri Pandits. You had said, “This film is about healing, this is about coming other. This film is about the fact that it has been more than 30 years about this tragedy. We should say sorry, and move on. This is like when two friends have a little fallout and after 30 years, they say forget this. They say sorry to each other and hug each other.” Are you the nation’s conscience keeper? Do you have no shame?
I don’t expect an apology from you, you simply cannot afford it. But in my own humble words, I wish to make this clear: we won’t take your nauseating propaganda for film-making anymore. We hope that sanity is restored to you and you realise the error of your ways.
A Frustrated Indian