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Mufti’s Valley gets new sheen

Mumbai, Feb. 14: At least one person has responded to Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s call to Bollywood to try out Kashmir again as a filmmaker’s haven. But then he is also trying out a subject that is new to mainstream Hindi cinema.

Ashok Pandit, director-producer of Sheen, a film on the plight of Kashmiri Pundits, will shortly take his 75-member crew to the distant reaches of the Valley to shoot his film. This follows a meeting between Sayeed and the film fraternity in the city.

“I felt that the chief minister was confident about the security. But I also wanted to go because my film is about Kashmiris and I am from Kashmir,” says Pandit.

The film is a love story set in 1990, marked by the exodus of Pundits from the Valley. Pandit says his film addresses a subject that has been untouched by any mainstream filmmaker in the country — the plight of the 7.5 lakh-strong Kashmiri Hindus who had to flee their land following militant attacks.

“Maybe because the subject does not enjoy the support of all political lobbies, no one has made a film on it,” says Pandit.

He says he wants to address a number of issues with his film. He took care to see that his love story did not happen between a boy and a girl belonging to two different religions, because that would be the “first lie”.

“Kashmiri Pundits would not marry Muslims. So why should I show such a situation' That would show I am not sure of myself. By repeating such cliches, we don’t help mitigate communal feelings, rather point out more the divides,” he says.

He says his film, with song-and-dance sequences, and featuring newcomers Tarun Arora and Sheen in the lead roles, with Raj Babbar and Kiran Juneja, will be a mainstream film, but an honest attempt to deal with people whose plight has been forgotten amid political compulsions.

“My hero is a victim. He is not a terrorist. And terrorists are not heroes. I want to distance myself from the tradition of glorifying terrorism in films like Mission Kashmir,” says Pandit.

“How can you call a terrorist a brave man' And films like this justify terrorism by showing that maybe a personal tragedy led to the mindset. But how can you ever justify terrorism'”

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