A day after students at the University of Kashmir protested the portrayal of Kashmir in Bollywood films, filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj on Monday said his film 'Haider' is a departure from the past trend and "will reflect 25 years of pain truthfully".
"I agree (with the protesting students) that Bollywood has not done justice with Kashmir in its portrayal. I feel pained and ashamed at the same time," said Bhardwaj.
The director, who has converted Shakespearean literature into major movies like Omkara (Othello) and Maqbool (Macbeth) by setting them in a local context, has been shooting for 'Haider', an adaptation of the play Hamlet, in the Valley for the past 18 days.
The entire movie, which has around 13 local artistes, is being shot in the Valley. Bhardwaj claimed that he was using a mix of local folks, local dialect and local music to bring his movie close to the reality of the early 1990s' period of militancy.
However, on Sunday, students and onlookers objected to an actor smoking on the campus, and an attempt to unfurl the national flag as part of a scene.
Downplaying the incident, Bhardwaj said, "It was nothing major. There was no unfurling of the flag. We have to deal with crowds all over the country, but Kashmiri people have retained their innocence and are the most well-behaved."
Expressing regret over reports of students being hauled up after the incident, he said, "It has saddened me. I plan to premiere the movie for students at the University of Kashmir next year. If it is not a truthful movie, I will not return to Kashmir," he said.
The director claimed the movie was "not for commercial reasons, but for emotional reasons". "I was influenced by Basharat Peer's book Curfewed Nights. I was confronted with new reality through the book. I also watched the Jashn-e-Azaadi documentary," he said.
Bhardwaj, who says he sees "Kashmir as the biggest-ever tragedy of the modern times", added, "It is still going on."
'Haider', he said, was an attempt to share "25 years of Kashmir's pain" on the screen. "The truth should come out and no one should take sides," he said.
He said his first visit to Kashmir in 2010 for the movie 'Saat Khoon Maaf' exposed him to the "awkward presence of security forces".
Promising not to further accentuate the stereotyping of Kashmiris, the filmmaker said his lead Haider, played by Shahid Kapoor, was a master of philosophy student, his mother (Tabu), a teacher, and uncle (KK Menon) a lawyer.
"It is about the middle class of Kashmir, that bore the brunt of the situation," he said.
He claimed that the movie was different because "we are trying to look from inwards rather than from outside".