Shikara is a 2020 Indian Hindi-language romantic drama film produced and directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The film is based on the love story of a Kashmiri Hindu couple at the peak of Islamic terrorism in Kashmir during the 1990s and the genocide and subsequent exodus of Kashmiri Hindus. The film was released on 7 February 2020.
The film is based on the love story of Hindu Kashmiri in the backdrop of the Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir. The book Our Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita has inspired many parts of the movie.
Aadil Khan as Shiv Kumar Dhar
Sadia as Shanti Dhar
Zamir Ashai as Khursheed Hassan Lone
Zain Khan Durrani as Lateef Lone
Priyanshu Chatterjee as Naveen
Vinay Raina as Shiv’s Father
Sharman Joshi as Shanti’s Brother
Bhavana Chauhan as Arti
Ashwin Dhar as Mohanlal
Farid Azad Khan as Rehmana
Saghar Sehrai as Haji Sahab
Mushtaq Kak as Masood Sahab
Anjana Sood as Shiv’s mother
Faiyaz Dilbar as Shanti’s father
Shahid Lateef as Yunus
Ajay Kaul as Manoharlal Kaul
Rahul Kilam as Raina’s Son
Ravi Braroo as Raina Sahab
In March 2018, it was reported that a film was shot under the title “Love and Letters” in Kashmir by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. In an interview later, he mentioned that almost entirely film was shot in Kashmir. Initially in Summer, then in autumn and again in Winter. Only refugee camps were recreated in Mumbai and some sequences in Agra, but this part of the story is brief. Shots in Kashmir included several places such as the Lalit Hotel in Srinagar, on shikaras in the middle of a lake, on the backwaters of the Dal, in a desolate Hindu house, near Hazratbal and many more.
Some scenes were reported to be shot in Wandhama near Ganderbal, where one of the biggest massacres in the Valley, 23 Kashmiri Hindus four children, nine women, and ten men were massacred in 1998.
Lead characters of Kashmiri birth, Aadil Khan and Sadia were cast to lend authenticity. Several Kashmiri Pandits were selected for the principal cast. Also, to make refugee camps as similar as possible to the real ones 30 years ago (19 January 1990), actual refugees were cast. Approximately 4,000 out of 400,000 refugees, who are currently inhabitants of Jagti Nagrota Migrant Camp and other refugee camps agreed to take part. They were women, children, and older people. Refugee camp scenes were shot for several days and nights in Bhagwati Nagar, Jammu.
Marketing and Release
On 7 January 2020 official trailer of the film was launched by Fox Star Studios. On 27 January 2020 second official trailer of the film was launched by Fox Star Studios. A. R. Rahman played the theme of Shikara’s lives in the launch event. On 14 January 2020, A ‘behind the scenes’ video released shows 4000 refugees coming together after 30 years to take part in the production of refugee camp scenes. Names of few refugees, the home town before fleeing and their experiences are shown in the video.
The film was released on 7 February 2020.
Shikara earned ₹1.20 crore at the domestic box office on its opening day. On the second day, the film collected ₹1.85 crores. On the third day, the film collected ₹1.90 crores, taking the total opening weekend collection to ₹4.95 crores. The first-week collection of the film in net gross India was ₹7.95 crore.
The setting is the late 80s and the communal tension in the picturesque valley of Kashmir is increasing at an alarming rate with every passing day. Yet, literature enthusiasts Shiv and his docile and demure wife Shanti are convinced that they are safe in the neighborhood they have called home for decades now. But, as years pass by, the intensity of widespread religious violence surpasses the supposition of the couple and that of thousands of other Kashmiri Pandits, and then, they are stuck with the horrific exodus of January 19, 1990. Standing at the threshold of losing everything they ever had, Shiva and Shanti are now torn between two equally tough choices – save their lives and leave behind their beloved birthplace or stay back and face the aftermath of a battle against their community.
If it’s not already evident, Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘Shikara’ is an attempt to bring to light the plight of Kashmiri Pandits and their insurmountable strength and courage in the face of adversity. Staying true to the 90s era and the hostility prevalent during that period, Chopra, very systematically, rolls out his historical romantic drama through an innocent love story between two perpetual optimists. Then, blends it with the real-life story of constant conflict between the Muslim extremists and the Kashmiri Pandits in the valley, eventually, wrapping it up with the theme he had originally started out with – how pure love can withstand many a battle, even of war and bloodshed. Throughout the film, the writer-director throws in various subplots – both real and reel – without derailing from the central theme even once.
However, the narrative is a tad bit more visually exciting and cinematically engaging in the first half, as there are multiple elements to keep one guessing about what’s going to unfold. While the second half is more invested in the love story – which does feel far-fetched, predictable and dated at times. Also, considering it’s a historical drama, it is rather disappointing to witness that the film does not go beyond a few fleeting mentions of the ordeal of the people from the other side of the incident; a one-sided approach. Not to mention, some parts of the screenplay of ‘Shikara’ seem all too convenient; almost like it was written in haste to rush back to the theme of romance.
Debutants Sadia and Aadil Khan make an attractive pair to watch on screen. Sadia, with her infectious smile, is a natural in portions where she is playing the younger part. Aadil’s depiction of an amateur poet does not resonate half as much as his portrayal of an older man.
The music and background score (A.R Rahman and Sandesh Shandilya) of ‘Shikara’ is like a balm for the soul, with able support from lyricist Irshad Kamil.
To sum it up, Vindhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘Shikara’ will cater to the cinematic sensibilities of a certain section of the audience. As a love story, it works at some level, but in the bigger picture, this old-school romance doesn’t really grip you and keep you engaged for too long.