While the mainstream media was never expected to call the bluff of Bollywood, and it didn’t, the social media space today got filled with condemnation of Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Shikara. Sirf News has compiled later in this story a few of the best comments from Facebook by Kashmiri Hindus, the Pandits.
Meanwhile, a video of a woman from the persecuted, cleansed community breaking down after watching the premiere of the movie, telling Chopra, “As a Kashmiri Pandit, I disown your movie,” has gone viral on both Twitter and Facebook.
Former BBC Hindi journalist Vijay Rana was shocked to see Chopra asking the audience at the premiere to clap after the woman finishes damning the film. “An insensitive Chopra responds by asking the audience to clap for her,” he wrote on his Facebook wall.
Comments by Kashmiri Pandits follow.
Sushil Pandit, known for airing nationalistic views on television and other public appearances, is outraged by Shikara. He tweeted, ” Watched Shikara. It has secularised the #HinduGenocide in #Kashmir and romanticised it for the megabucks it will make. Our homes and murders are a mere prop in this story. Massacres, rapes and vandalised temples must’ve been too gory to qualify for even a prop, in a love story.”
Sushil Pandit continued, “It reeks of the bhaichara politics of @VVCFilms right through Blaming American guns Disparaging the #Ayodhya movement Rationalising #Jihad and cleverly masking its underlying #HinduHate Glossing over the judicial apathy Mocking at the help rendered by a ‘Party’ in the camps…”
“Airbrushed #Islam as a non-issue Underplayed #Jihad as mere stray events Exaggerated exceptions of individual warmth over deep society-wide hostility. A gross simplification of the issue of our return. Shikara like #Padmavat turns #HinduGenocide into entertainment for commerce,” Pandit wrote further.
Betrayed by fellow Kashmiris, Pandit writes, “‘The Untold Story of Kashmiri Pandits” is how @VVCFilms promoted his film Shikara On the eve of its release, the description was changed to “A timeless love story in the worst of times” Selling mushy pulpy romance in the name of our genocide is the unkindest cut ever expected.”
Finally, Pandit questions the depth of Chopra when he scoffs, “1942 A Love Story by @VVCFilms around the golden jubilee of Quit India movement, is recalled for “Ek ladki ki dekha toh aisa laga” Likewise, on 30yrs of our exodus, Shikara hums “Tujhe jo ek pal na dekha toh mar jaye hum” Sell romance for a living if you must. Not our genocide!”
Well-known social and political affairs commentator Ashish Dhar writes, “I haven’t watched Shikara and unless someone pays me to review it, I have no intention of watching it. The trailer was so insipid that just the thought of sitting through another self-indulgent work of fart by Chopra was frightening. The last time I participated in such an adventure was 18 years ago when I was an engineering student and wasting precious time was a passion. I confess I watched Mission Kashmir in Raghavendra theatre in Vellore.”
“I have been following the conversations about Shikara on social media and I find two groups of KPs, one endorsing the movie apparently with a standing ovation and the other hating it. This split in opinion perhaps tells us more about the vulnerability of my community than Vidhu ji‘s magnum opus. What it tells us is something very significant about how narratives are created by winning over the most vulnerable sections of a community. This is a pattern that is seen in everything to do with Kashmiri Pandits (KPs).”
“In a conflict between short-term benefit and long term survival, your choice is driven by where you are placed in life. The worse your present, the more temporary your concerns, which means that you tend to trade-off your future well-being for instant gratification. So, when a KP delegation meets a senior cabinet minister, the discussion inevitably gets hijacked by the handful of vocal members who bring up pāni, bijlī and ration card concerns and block any discussion on issues of rehabilitation, return and settlement. The government also finds it most convenient to address “problems that can be solved” and admonishes the more strategically demanding among us for being insensitive to the plight of our own community members.”
“When someone from the film crew tweeted that the movie got a standing ovation from KPs “living in camps”, all I could do was heave a sigh of I don’t know what and log out of twitter,” Ashish Dhar concludes.
Renuka Dhar, writer and freedom fighter’s daughter, writes, “Just got back from watching Shikara. The movie is so ludicrous, it defies description! It is neither a depiction of the horrors faced by the Kashmiri Pandit community nor a plausible love story. I guess this is what happens when the script-writer lets his political ideology overshadow his duty as a responsible narrator and teams up with a film-maker who has a penchant for monkey balancing.”
“The movie begins by giving reasons for ‘militancy’ in Kashmir, the usual story of ‘Govt excesses’ turning dashing cricketers into terrorist commanders with guns. What’s with this guilt trip that our KP journalists seem to be on? Why does every narrative of theirs begin and end with defending Kashmiri Muslims? Have you ever seen a KM journalist focussing on or even sympathising with KPs?”
“The Islamic slogans are muted, the hatred is not shown. The lead couple go through the film with vacuous smiles on their faces, their very expressions negating the seriousness of the tragedy. How can one expect non-KPs to feel or convey the pain of our suffering? Choosing a KM lady to play the role of Shanti is like rubbing salt on our wounds. She looks so much like a KM girl I knew that I found it ridiculous seeing that face with a dangling dejhore!”
“Rahul Pandita’s obsession with the RSS finds a place too, a bunch of kids chant ‘Mandir wahin banayenge‘ which gives the hero a chance to deliver his irritating sermon on ‘communal harmony’! As if this was the most pressing issue faced by the KPs languishing in Camps!”
“The movie tries too hard to paint a picture of how everything would’ve been perfect if the United States had not provided the world with arms. It’s like no one is responsible for what happened in 1990 so Shiv Kumar Dhar writes endless letters to the US President and finally goes back to a deserted village so that he can educate the children of those who hounded him out!”
“The saddest part of this debacle is that two Kashmiri Hindus, who announced that they were going to tell our untold story, have let us down so badly that it doesn’t even evoke any emotion. I went for the movie thinking it would move me to tears and came back wondering why we allow ourselves to be taken for a ride every time!”
“Thankfully the hall was near empty and the few people who were there were absolutely unmoved! What a waste of such a good opportunity, #RahulPandita should not be forgiven for this betrayal. Vidhu Vinod Chopra will continue grinning and move on to his next venture after this unforgivable treachery. He should be forbidden from making another film on Kashmir!”