'Sikandar' shows Kashmir problem

Jul 9, 2009 Ruchika Kher

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) Filmmaker Piyush Jha insists that his "Sikandar" is not just another film set in Kashmir. He says the movie tries to present the situation in the trouble-torn Valley through the eyes of children living there.

" 'Sikandar' basically reflects the situation of Kashmir seen through the eyes of children. Children are the hope of the country and thus this film is very relevant at this time, especially for the younger generation," Jha told IANS over telephone from Mumbai.

"It's a film full of hope but told in a manner that is not preachy. It is involving and intriguing and connects at an emotional level," said the adfilmaker-turned-director.

"Sikandar", which will hit theatres Aug 21, is produced by Big Pictures and Sudhir Mishra and has child actors Parzan Dastur and Ayesha Kapoor playing lead characters. It also features actors like Sanjay Suri and R. Madhavan in pivotol roles.

Set in Jammu and Kashmir, the film is centred on a teenage boy, who dreams of playing football at the national level, and his friend, played by Ayesha Kapoor. But one day he finds a gun on the road and things change for him thereafter.

Though the film has children as its protagonists, the director refuses to call it a children's film.

" 'Sikandar' is not a children's film at all. It just has two important characters as children but it's for everyone. Just like 'Taare Zameen Par' had a child protagonist but it appealed to people of all ages, this film too will appeal to one and all," said Jha, who has made two satirical comedies "Chalo America" and "King Of Bollywood" earlier.

The film is shot entirely in the Valley and Jha maintains that the cast and crew faced no difficulty during the shooting schedule.

Talking about his experience he said: "Shooting the film in Kashmir was a great experience. The locals there and our local coordinators were so helpful. We got tremendous support from the people of the Valley and did not face any kind of problem. I would really like to appreciate the Kashmiri people.

And how difficult was it to get the Kashmiri flavour in the film?

"Extensive research went behind making the film as authentic as possible. I had to study the Kashmiri culture a lot and for that I travelled across the Valley and read about it at length.

"I met Kashmiris in the Valley and also outside to know things. We had to research the way they talk, they walk, basically everything," the director explained.

The film was to release in March but was delayed mainly due to the strike in Bollywood over the revenue-sharing row between producers and multiplex owners.

"The strike was the main reason for the delay. Once the strike was over after two months, films with huge star casts were releasing. So we were looking for a right slot," Jha said.

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