The filmmaker says his main focus while making a film is entertaining his audience.
It took 11 long years for filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra to make a comeback, and he is making sure to leave no stone unturned in making the film perfect. Titled Shikara: A love letter from Kashmir, the historical drama is based on the 1990 exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley.
The filmmaker says his main focus while making a film is entertaining his audience. “Whenever I set out to write a film, I always think about one thing — How can I entertain my viewers. I also want to depict my film in such a manner that a change can come about in their lives after watching my film. In 3 Idiots, there was a dialogue, ‘Tum kaabil bano, kamyabi jhakk maarke piche aayegi’ (Become competent and success will automatically follow). This literally changed the lives of many children. And when we did Gandhigiri also (in 2003 film Munnabhai MBBS), many people started giving flowers to each other, which meant get well soon,” he explains.
Chopra says that he is drawn to this film because of his mother. “As you all know, my mother came here and could not return back to Kashmir. Initially, mom had a feeling that things will fall into place and we would be able to go to Kashmir within two months. I think every Hindu and Kashmiri Pundit mother has had this same feeling initially, which slowly and gradually starts diminishing, and they could sense that returning is just impossible,” he rues, adding that its also impossible to lose hope.
“Imagine one day while going to college you read a poster stating ‘chale jao varna goli maar denge’ (Leave or we will shoot you). But you still console yourself and feel that the government and Army will come and things may start improving. You hope against hope. So I have tried to weave some entertainment into the 30-year-old story with a love story too,” he says, adding that he added his own experience with the issue into the film as well.
“I left Kashmir when I was 18. I remember Rajendera Kumar and Sadhana had shot in the same locations where we have shot. Also I have made the hero stand at the same spot where I would stand and watch the shooting of Hindi films that took place in Kashmir,” he says.
Given the current political climate, the filmmaker finds that now is the best possible time to release Shikara. “We were supposed to release Shikara on November 7, 2019. It has been eight months since the abrogation of Section 370. We felt that was not the right time for the release of Shikara. This is the right time for this film to release; we can discuss this topic all over India,” he asserts.
The film does not star any known names, only new faces. Chopra reveals that this was an intentional move so as to avoid the hoopla around bigger stars. He explains, “Any hero like Shah Rukh or Aamir Khan would have come with baggage. In this film, my heroes Shiv Kumar Dhar and Shanti Dhar will make you feel the emotions that the Kashmiris faced then,” he concludes.