Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra on Sunday said that he is "deeply disturbed" by the accusation that his latest release "Shikara" commercialises the subject of Kashmiri Pandits. In an open letter, the director dismissed the allegation as "nonsensical". His response comes days after a Kashmiri Pandit woman broke down after watching the film and accused the director of "commercialising the plight" of the community that was forced to leave the Valley in the 1990s when militancy rose its head in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Calling himself an "affected Kashmiri Hindu", Chopra recalled how his house in Kashmir was ransacked and his family members attacked. "My mother who came with a small suitcase to Bombay for the premiere of 'Parinda' could not go back home – she died in exile in Mumbai... Now I'm being accused of selling my soul, of commercialising the subject of Kashmiri Pandits.
"It's a nonsensical accusation because if I wanted to make money I would have made the sequel to 'Munnabhai' or '3 Idiots'," he argued in the letter shared by his production banner on social media.
Chopra said he made "Shikara" as he was a first-hand witness to what the loss of a home means. "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. 'Shikara' is my truth. It’s is my mother’s truth. It’s my co-writer Rahul Pandita’s truth," he added.
The producer, best known for producing films such as the "Munnabhai" series, "3 Idiots" and "PK", said "Shikara" is an attempt to highlight the unimaginable pain "without sowing the seeds of violence and animosity".
"This is the truth of a community which despite going through such trauma did not pick up a gun or spread hate... And to begin a conversation that will hopefully enable Kashmiri Pandits to return to Kashmir," he said.
"Violence will only beget violence. I have see my home destroyed by hate. Do not let it consume you. I want you to have a future that is different from my past," he added.
Featuring Aadil Khan and Sadia, the film released last Friday.
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