Shikara special screening: The special screening of the much-anticipated film Shikara was hosted by filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra on Sunday, January 19 in the city to mark the 30th anniversary of Kashmiri Pandits’ exodus from the Kashmir Valley. Around 200 Kashmiri Pandits, who came from their refugee camps, attended the special screening. Featuring debutantes Aadil Khan and Sadia, the film tells the untold story of 4 lakh Kashmiri Pandits who were ousted from their homeland overnight in 1990. The 1 hour 58 minutes film took 11 years to make and is based on the book Our Moon Has Blood Clots by author- journalist Rahul Pandita.

At the special screening, it was an emotional moment for Vidhu Vinod Chopra, who dedicated Shikara to his mother Shanti Devi who died in 2007. The focus of the film is to draw the attention of the viewers and the Narendra Modi government to the 3 decades-old demands of Kashmiri Pandits. Chopra said the message of the film must go out to the whole world. He said the only thing to hate in India is hate.

Chopra and Pandita urged the Narendra Modi government to take up Kashmiri Pandits’ rehabilitation to their homeland in Parliament. Chopra wanted to know why the ruling and past governments didn’t act on the issue over the past 30 years. He said nobody listened to us all these years and there was no noise in Parliament and urged that noise should be made now.

The experience was humiliating and he couldn’t even bring it upon himself to narrate the experience. From the humiliation of bathing under public taps, no warm blankets, standing all day for doled out tomatoes, only their hope stood along with them.

Rahul Pandita said, “Everyone including my family left the place. My mother, who was exactly my age in 1990, left Kashmir with three suitcases — one with him and his sisters’ books, the others had some clothes.”

The film is set in the backdrop of the exodus and features actors Aadil Khan as Shiv Kumar Dhar and Sadia as Shanti Dhar. They are part of a Kashmiri Pandit family who struggle to survive during the harsh realities following the exodus.

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In 1990, thousands of Kashmiri Pandits were asked to leave their homes overnight and a few among them spoke of their experiences. From taking shelter to run for tomatoes, every glimpse of the film is touching and heart-breaking, illustrating the agony, grief of the refugees who were not rehabilitated properly in their homeland.

Written by Abhijat Joshi, who has written PK , 3 Idiots and Munna Bhai MBBS, the script has given the anguished voice to the silence of the true story. Pandita said the story is true of several Kashmiri Pandits who were asked to leave their houses within a matter of weeks.

At the screening, the response of the audience was overwhelming and the film is slated for release on February 7.

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