It’s surprising that the Kashmir Exodus that left lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits, stranded and disillusioned in their own homeland, is reduced to a mere prop in ‘Shikara’ to serve the larger narrative being a love-story between the two leads.
Aadil Khan and Sadia star as Shiv Kumar Dhar and Shanti Dhar. He, a professor who’s pursuing a PhD. She, a nurse. Their romance blooms over a film set where they first meet as junior artistes. Eventually, they get married and are shown to be living their happily-ever-after, blissfully unaware of the political unrest that’s about to seal their fates forever. Their world comes crashing down when militant insurgency drives them out of their home alongwith lakhs of fellow Kashmiri Pandits, and are forced to live in refugee camps in Jammu. While Shiv learns to cope with the situation by routinely teaching the children living in these camps, Shanti nurtures her dream to return to her house in the Kashmir Valley.
Written by director Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rahul Pandita and Abhijat Joshi, the script’s narrative choice to blend a love story against a political backdrop is interesting, in order to draw the attention of the younger audiences, but there is not enough reference that displays the political movements and tensions that led to the exodus. It comes across as a mere touchpoint. It does try to steer clear from being a propaganda film in alignment with the current beliefs of the political environment. One might argue that there are scenes that do intentionally paint the Muslims in bad light, but then that discredits and dismisses the pain and suffering of thousands of innocent Hindu civilians who chose peace and love over their ideologies. A.R Rahman and Qutub-E-Kripa’s effective original score compliments the landscapes shot by DOP Rangarajan Ramabadran. While the picturesque moments are soaked in bright lights and happy music, the mood turns melancholic when unrest looms over, making it a cinematically rich experience.
The chemistry between Aadil and Sadia is cute, never mind mushy. The moments between them are likely to remind you of ‘The Notebook’, in an uncanny manner. Both actors are a natural and here’ hoping more films come their way.
If you’re looking for an old-school love story than ‘Shikara’ is worth a watch.