Jaipur: Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj, who excluded the representation of Kashmiri Pandits in his film “Haider”, Thursday said he was never “insensitive” towards the mass exodus that made the majority of the community “refugees” in their own country.
Bhardwaj’s Indian adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” was the final film of his trilogy, along with “Maqbool” and “Omkara”, adapted from the plays “Macbeth” and “Othello” respectively.
The Shahid Kapoor-starrer, however, got embroiled in a post-release controversy where many blamed Bhardwaj for “showing only one side of Kashmir”.
“The story of Kashmiri Pandits is not a less tragedy at all. But cinema gives you a choice and it was my choice to make a movie on this subject. Basically, the topic didn’t allow me to focus on that tragedy,” Bharadwaj said at a session titled “Hamlet’s Dilemma” at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.
“I am not insensitive towards them because overnight so many people became refugees in their own country,” he said.
It seemed the 49-year-old filmmaker was ready for this question to be thrown at him and sounded a bit irked when asked the same.
But he had come prepared with a question which he threw at the audience.
“Why didn’t you ask the same question to Vidhu Vinod Chopra? He too had made ‘Mission Kashmir’. He had the power and he was from the same community, yet he didn’t. I might make a movie whenever I feel like and show their side as well,” he added.
The idea of making “Hamlet” against the backdrop of “Kashmir” had struck Bhardwaj when he read journalist-author Basharat Peer’s “Curfewed Night”, an account of the Kashmir conflict and he decided to rope in Peer for the script.
Peer, who was also present at the session, made an important point that substantiated the “absence” of Kashmiri Pandits from the film.
“The book is based in 1995 and we had to have situations and events that could fit into the story of Hamlet. And frankly I could have done ‘tokenism’ to tell their story, but this is not a quota system,” he said.
“It is a great human shame. It is the shame on the nation who haven’t made a film on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. We were making a film and not a visual documentary on Kashmir,” he added.
The heated debate ended with the large gathering cheering and supporting the expression of cinema and celebration of Shakespeare.