Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Shikara released in theatres on February 7, 2020. The film recently hit a controversy when a woman, belonging to the Kashmiri Pandit community, broke down after watching the film in a special screening in Delhi and slammed the filmmaker for 'commercialising the plight of Kashmiri Pandits.'
After being accused of commercialising the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits through his latest directorial, the director on Sunday wrote an open letter on Facebook, to talk about the sufferings that he and his family had to face when they were driven out of their homeland as a result of being targeted by Islamist insurgents three decades ago.
The filmmaker addressed the letter to 'young Indians' and wrote, "The recent incidents related to Shikara have deeply disturbed me. I am an affected Kashmiri Hindu. My house in Kashmir was ransacked and my family members attacked. My mother who came with a small suitcase to Bombay for the premiere of Parinda (1989) could not go back home - she died in exile in Mumbai".
"While most of you know me for producing films like Munnabhai and 3 Idiots, I've actually been making films for the last 40 years - my first short film was nominated for an Oscar in 1979. My journey in cinema has been extremely satisfying and I have never felt even an iota of doubt in my mind that I ever strayed from the commandments of the iconic filmmaker Ingmar Bergman who said that Thou Shalt Entertain but that Thou Shalt Entertain Without Selling Your Soul."
Describing the accusations as "nonsensical," Chopra continued, "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. But the reason I made Shikara is because I have witnessed firsthand 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."
He further wrote, "The movie 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."
"Violence will only beget violence. I have seen 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 wrote in his open letter.