Chopra’s ‘Shikara’ Takes on Radicalism, ‘Azaadi’ & Refugee Crisis

Shikara is the story of a Kashmiri pundit couple that was forced to flee their home in Kashmir valley in 1990.

2 min read
Aadil Khan and Sadia Khan in <i>Shikara</i>.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s latest film, Shikara, is a love story set around the events of 19 January 1990, the day where hoards of Kashmiri Pundits were forced to flee the Kashmir valley, following persecution and threats by militants and radical Islamists.

Given the current political climate, the images of violence in the trailer are bound to arouse extreme emotions. Today the same ‘azaadi’ slogans used by the militants back then, have assumed a new meaning, with protesters using it as a strong opposing statement to Indian government’s NRC (National Register of Citizens) and CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) policies that puts minorities in a vulnerable position.

“When hate is all that is left, love is your only weapon,” the filmmaker says in the tagline at the end of the trailer.

Shikara stars Sadia and Aadil Khan as a Kashmiri pundit couple who is forced to flee the Kashmir valley, and yearn to return home. 

Almost three decades later, India is still reeling under the political and social ramifications of the events of that day. Ironically, with Kashmir under a government lockdown for the last five months, the people of Kashmir may not be even able to watch this trailer.

The story seems like a personal one as the film’s director, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, has spent his childhood in Srinagar, and film’s writer, Rahul Pandita’s lost his brother during the exodus as he was shot dead by militants.

Going by the trailer, Chopra seems to have handled the subject with sensitivity, and without relying on jingoism to incite patriotic emotions.

The fundamental issue that Chopra seems to be dealing with here is the “agony of being a refugee in your own country”, and the perils of radicalism - core issues we are battling at the moment.

The title Shikara from this perspective is as much a symbol of Kashmir as it is of the refugees who may end up spending their whole life in transit, waiting to find their “home”.


Directed, edited and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Shikara will release in theatres on 7 February.

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