Verdict: The lead pair’s strong performances make Shikara even more beautiful.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Shikara, an attempt to relate the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, has hit the theatres amidst some controversies and strong opinions. Directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and allegedly based on true events, Shikara stars two promising newcomers with strong chemistry – Aadil Khan and Sadia.

What’s Shikara About:

Shiv Kumar Dhar (Aadil Khan) and Shanti (Sadia) are a young couple who live in the romantic and picturesque Kashmir. It’s the late 80s and after a meet-cute on the set of a movie where they’re hired as extras, the couple gets married. Their bond is as strong as their love for each other, their culture, and their beautiful home. As they enjoy the small and wholesome pleasures of their lives, the pro-independence movement explodes in Kashmir and Islamic militants unleash violent attacks to drive out the Kashmiri Pandits. Shiv and Shanti are forced to leave their home and their lives behind to find shelter in the overcrowded refugee camps. While Shiv tries to comfort a bereaved Shanti, he makes it his mission to ask for international intervention in the Kashmir issue by writing letters to the President of the United States but to no avail. Through this young couple, Shikara takes us through the heartbreaking plight of people forced out of their own homes.

What Works:

Before Kashmir’s political situation became tense, we often saw Bollywood heroes and heroines romance against the breathtaking locales of Kashmir. Shikara is reminiscent of those innocent romances and the newcomers lend strong performances to highlight this era. Kashmir’s inherent beauty and heartbreaking history are captured throughout the film and become the perfect backdrop for the young couple’s love story. Aadil Khan and Sadia are not only wonderful actors with a lot of potential but they also share palpable chemistry; a special mention to Sadia’s smile that is full of innocence and lights up the screen. A. R. Rahman’s music elevates the film’s emotive narrative and adds layers to the film. Shikara captures the couple’s moments of grieving for the loss of a home and their identity as well as their mighty resilience equally well. The film uses real footage from history like Benazir Bhutto’s speech on television to establish a sense of realness of the harsh proceedings of the exodus. Shikara expertly captures the ache and longing of the Kashmiri Pandits to return home after a lifetime of struggle.

What Could’ve Been Better:

Shikara’s focus is limited to the Dhar couple and it doesn’t delve deep into the political scenario at the time apart from establishing context. The history captured in the film may leave a lot to be desired but Shikara scores full points on the portrayal of a strong romance.

Why You Should Watch:

Shikara’s romantic tale is a must-watch because of the fresh and talented lead pair – Aadil Khan and Sadia. Their classic and poetic romance is accompanied by the heartbreak of their displacement from their home. Shikara captures Kashmir’s beauty gracefully and is complemented by Rahman’s perfect music.