Shikara movie review: A Valley in melancholy

Shikara movie review: A Valley in melancholy

The loss of identity and longing for Kashmiri Pandits' homeland is an ache that runs through the movie.

Cast: Sadia, Aadil Khan
Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Language: Hindi (U/A)
Rating: 3/5

Vidhu Vinod Chopra tells a touching story of love in the face of tragedy. ‘Shikara’ tells the story of the exodus and murder of Kashmiri Pandits in the Kashmir valley. It is about love, loss and belonging.

Shanti (Sadia) and Shiv (Aadil Khan) fall in love when they meet during a film shoot in the 1980s. 

They get married at their village home, their environs evocative of gentle watercolour paintings of hillscapes. Kashmir is a vital part of the love story — they start their marriage on a Shikara (boathouse) on a lake, and lovingly build their first home.

The movie does a good job in setting the period, and infuses the shots with the nostalgia of simpler times, of community on good terms, and of young people with their hearts filled with hope. However, the building violence against the Pandits escalates too quickly — and in doing so, it ignores Lateef who lost his father in an army attack. It ignores what could have been a great character.  

This is where the movie makes the important choice of remaining apolitical, it does not focus on anger, instead, it focuses on despair, the loss of identity, and raises questions about who a Kashmiri really is. It prompts you to despair not only for what happens to Shanti and Shiv but also for the spirit of Kashmir, torn apart by a tornado of violence. 

Shiv’s poetry in the movie is indicative of this — at the start, it is reserved for his lover Shanti, and 30 years later, as he is escorted back home by the army to extract information from his friend Lateef, he wonders if the sun still transforms the leaves into the same golden hue that it used to. 

When he and his wife step into the house that used to be theirs, it is almost as if their mark on Kashmir has been wiped out. 

The loss of identity and longing for their homeland is an ache that runs through the movie. At the refugee camps in Jammu, an old man sings wistfully about his home and shouts emphatically at everyone to take him back to Kashmir. 

‘Shikara’ is an important tale of love and forgiveness, it does justice to the tender romance of Shiv and Shanti and depicts the crises that follow displacement, but it does not touch the question of army violence. It does not talk about how and why, despite his love for his best friend, Lateef still does what he does. 

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)