Director Rahul Dholakia had to shift his Lamhaa shoot out of Jammu and Kashmir over security issues and protests, but Sikandar director Piyush Jha says it's "an absolutely beautiful place" and he didn't find shooting in the valley a problem at all.
"Really, I didn't actually find it so challenging to shoot in Kashmir," said Jha who has moved on to a sensitive subject after making two comedies Chalo America and King of Bollywood.
"Kashmir was an absolutely beautiful place to be in. We shot in spring time because the view of the valley in that season is so spectacular. Also, I wanted to show Kashmir the way it was portrayed in the films of the 1960s and 70s. We didn't really have any issues shooting there as people were very supportive and welcoming," said Jha.
Dholakia's Lamhaa faced trouble in Kashmir when the local people wanted the film's shooting to be stopped. The lead actress Bipasha Basu returned to Mumbai in the middle of shoot due to safety concerns. But filming Jha's movie went on quite peacefully and the crew didn't feel threatened by the law and order situation in Kashmir.
"The only difficulty was off the terrain to get from one point to another as we were shooting in mountains and jungles. They were really difficult to access and resulted in quite some time being spent in just travelling. Moreover, it was quite tiring as well," Jha told IANS.
The director has teamed up with actors like Madhavan and Sanjay Suri along with teenage actors Parzan Dastur and Ayesha Kapur for his film.
A co-production of BIG Pictures and Sudhir Mishra, Sikandar is a suspense thriller, which tells the story of a 14-year-old schoolboy, Sikander (Parzan), living in Kashmir with his uncle and aunt. One day, on his way home from a school football match, Sikandar finds a gun lying on the path and his life is not the same after that.
Why did Jha decide to make a comeback with such a sensitive and controversial topic?
"As a kid I wanted to make films with subjects that were socially relevant. But as I grew up I went into advertising and producing commercial products. So when I travelled, explored and I looked at myself, I got in touch with my old self," he said.
Sikandar isn't the only such 'socially relevant' film that Jha intends to make as there are more in the pipeline.
"I have worked on three scripts like these, the first of which is Sikandar. With these films I want to attract the masses and reach out to them and make it relevant cinema. So it's not a documentary or a boring depiction of Kashmir. Rather, I will term it as interesting suspense thriller," he said.
Previously titled Foot Soldier, Sikandar also stars Arunodoy Singh in a key role and is expected to hit the screens in May.