Post the announcement of 5 National awards for Haider, its director Vishal Bhardwaj went public declaring he wanted to dedicate his National awards to the evicted Kashmiri Pandits’ population of the valley.
Vishal, in his magnanimous wisdom, also added that Kashmiri Pandits like Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Anupam Kher should make films highlighting the plight of the community.
Known always to be outspoken, Anupam who is currently in Mauritius spoke up against Vishal Bhardwaj’s statement.
“How insensitive and patronizing can you get, Mr Bhardwaj,” Anupam said, the hurt in his voice carrying across the seas. “Firstly you make a pro-militant film showing the Indian army as the villains in the Valley. Then you don’t care to represent the Kashmiri Pandits’ viewpoint at all anywhere in the film. I never held any of this against you. As a talented filmmaker it’s your prerogative to project whatever perception suits your creativity. In fact, after I saw the film I never expressed my deep misgivings…until now, when after the awards you’ve insulted my community.”
Taking a deep breath Anupam continues, “What does he mean by dedicating the trophies to us Kashmiri Pandits? After insulting us, Vishal Bhardwaj wants to show what a generous soul he is? He wants to tell me what I should do for my community? I don’t need anyone to tell me my duty. I did what was right towards my country. Even when I was thrown out of my own home and state with my family I didn’t become a terrorist. I didn’t turn against my country. I remain a patriotic Indian in spite of being treated as an outsider in my own home. As for making a film to highlight the plight of my community, I don’t need advice on what to do. Mr. Bhardwaj has made a one-sided biased film and now he wants to show his generosity towards us. Sorry, we don’t need your pity. In spite of all the agony that we’ve gone through, we Kashmiri Pandits have survived.”
Anupam Kher is deeply offended by the whole approach adapted by Haider to the Kashmiri Pandit community.
“Our viewpoint doesn’t exist in the film. Instead, the film insults us by showing a devil’s dance in our sacred Martand Temple in Kashmir. Does he know how hurtful this sort of violation of our sacred spaces is to our community? And then to dedicate awards to us when we don’t even exist in your creative point of view reeks of hypocrisy.”
Without openly commenting on the government honouring what has been perceived by some as anti-army pro-militancy film Anupam says, “Vishal even has the gall to suggest that he is surprised the Indian government honoured him for Haider. What does he mean? That if he hadn’t got the National awards, he would consider the Indian government as unjust and non-liberal? Just as Vishal considers the censor board to be unfair to him?”
Anupam Kher is shocked by Vishal Bhardwaj’s disdainful dismissal of the censor board. “He calls the CBFC the Taliban? After all Haider with its blatantly one-sided view of militancy and its harsh language and brutal violence was given a certificate! Vishal Bhardwaj’s films have always been treated liberally by the CBFC. He has no reason to complain.”
Adds Ashoke Pandit, another Kashmiri Pandit from Bollywood, “You make an anti-army pro-militancy film. You empathize with those who killed, raped, murdered Kashmiri Pandits. You sympathize with those who are responsible for the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. And then you want to dedicate the film to Kashmiri Pandits? It’s a big joke. It’s either his guilt which is forcing him to say this. Or he is being sarcastic. He should be happy that he got these National awards from a government which he feels is communal.”