‘Shikara’ Movie Review: The Romance Triumphs Over The History Lesson
Shikara is a 2020 Indian Hindi language historical drama, romantic feature film produced and directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra.The film is based on the Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir.
In his telling of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland, Vidhu Vinod Chopra uses a tender lens to create a romance between two individuals, which is wholly lovely and believable.
You look at Shiv Kumar Dhar and his beloved, Shanti, and you sigh. And then you look around at the beauty depicted on screen, slowly being ground to dust, and you ask why.
Review: India Today
Shikara has several moments when you can feel tears welling up in your eyes, sometimes of joy and most of the times of sadness. The sheer happiness with which Shanti reads out the letter informing the acceptance of Shiv’s thesis for Phd and saying, “Ab aap tik-tik masterji nahi rahe. Ab aap professor saab ho gye hai,” makes you join the Dhars in the celebration.
A scene where a group of Kashmiri Pandit kids are seen hurling communal slogans like, “Mandir vahi banaenge,” with cricket bats in their hands shows how young minds are affected by what they see around them.
AR Rahman’s music does magic to the film. With Sandesh Shandilya, the music maestro presents you the scenic beauty of Kashmir in his music. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics provide the right support.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Shikara is a film on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits made with the right amount of sensibility and compassion. While it touches hearts in many parts, it also compels you to question if everything was clearly black and white with no shades of grey.
Caught between the exigencies of fiction and the harsh realities of today’s headlines, Shikara attempts to balance its concerns by offering up that favourite movie victim of upheaval – the apolitical innocent, buffeted by unseen and uncontrollable forces. This movie has two of them, and their first encounter is as charming as it is inventive.
The epistolary device is one of the clumsy ways in which the movie deals with a knotty issue. Chopra, who has written the screenplay with Rahul Pandita and Abhijat Joshi, picks a narrow-angle lens through which to view the Kashmiri struggle. The 120-minute movie often reduces a deeply complex movement to a series of incidents.
But the chronicle of a past injustice that continues to reverberate in the present is unable to forge connections with other events in Kashmir’s history.
Shikara, by director-producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s own admission is a love letter to Kashmir dedicated to the memory of his mother Shanti Devi who like multitudes of Kashmiri Pandits could not return home due to the insurgency that began in the eighties, ultimately resulting in a mass exit in January 1990.
What you see at the outset in the film is a general bonhomie between people of different faiths but as the film progresses, the fault lines begin to appear until lives are torn apart and destroyed.
Keeping away from the aggressive narratives and optics led by armed conflicts, this one is a grieving of quietude. It mourns the unravelling of Kashmir’s close-knit social fabric comprising of all faiths.
Visually, Shikara resembles a painting, a work of art with Rangarajan Ramabadran’s delicate cinematography accompanied by excellent production and costume design. The music by A.R. Rahman helps maintain the lilting tone suitable to a love story.