Filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s latest film Shikara, based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley between January and March 1990, faced the ire of some people who said he commercialised the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. At a promotional event, Chopra called out people who are commenting on the film without even watching it. He even called them ‘gadhe’ (donkeys).
While addressing the students of KC college in Mumbai, Chopra said, “3 Idiots, which I produced earned Rs 33 crore on its first day of release, and we knew the first-day collection of Shikara will be Rs 30 lakh. Despite that, we gave 11 years of our life to make this film. I feel today things are very funny because I’ve made films that collected Rs 30 crore on its first day, and when I make a film that collects Rs 30 lakh on its first day in the memory of my mother, people say I have commercialised the pain of Kashmiri people. I feel people who think that way are gadhe (donkeys), and that’s why I want to tell you, don’t be donkeys. First, see the film and then form your opinions.”
This is not the first time that Vidhu Vinod Chopra has reacted on the accusation of commercialising the sensitive subject. He penned an open letter addressing “young Indians”, in which he called the accusations “nonsensical”.
He wrote, “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.”
A resident of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, Chopra added, “Shikara is my truth. It’s is my mother’s truth. It’s my 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.”
Shikara hit the theaters on February 7 and received a mixed response from the audience and critics.
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