Kicking a storm

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Movie masala and real life are set to clash once again in Kashmir as football star Mehrajudin Wadoo wants his name disassociated from Piyush Jha’s Sikander that depicts the rise of a boy from militancy to stardom in football, Haroon Mirani reports.

Sikander

Bollywood’s latest flick Sikander, set in the backdrop of Kashmir, is embroiled in a controversy as the ‘inspiration’ of the movie has objected to his depiction.

Kashmiri football star of the Indian team, Mehrajudin Wadoo, who the director Piyush Jha claims to be the inspiration of the movie, has threatened to stay its release.

Jha, who has also written the script of the film told reporters earlier this month that the

“story of a Kashmiri boy Mehrajuddin Wadoo who wanted to be a football player inspired me to write the script. It dwells on the issue of channelising the energies of youngsters positively.”

Glamorous looks, a top end footballer and meteoric rise from a modest background to Indian national team, Wadoo’s story has all ingredients for any good movie.  Come Bollywood and they add their masala of Kashmir, violence, patriotism and politics in the film and entire plot changes.

It is the masala element that Wadoo is scared of.

The film revolves around the story of a boy who loves football but his life is changed after he finds a gun lying on a road. Jha has promoted the film as a story inspired by Wadoo.

“I don’t know Jha and he has never contacted me neither have I seen the film,” Wadoo told Kashmir Life over phone from Goa. Wadoo says that for some time the director has been giving statements “which create a notion that we are both involved in the movie”.

“A film inspired by my life would have been a good thing but they add the masala, which entirely change the depiction,” says Wadoo.

Wadoo’s worries began soon after the film promos were released.m

“In the film there is an element of gun. The boy takes up the gun, his parents are killed and there is politics also,” Wadoo says. “In my life nothing of that has ever happened. It will mar my reputation and career.”

Wadoo is apprehensive about misconceptions that the film can generate about him. “People in India will think I belong to a terrorist group and I am a terrorist turned footballer and other such things,” says Wadoo. “I don’t want to take any risk. My parents are in Kashmir and I don’t want any problem to them due to the misunderstanding created by the film,” he says. He says that he is a footballer and wants to remain a footballer.

Wadoo has taken up the matter with the director.

“I recently talked to him (Jha) on the phone and asked him to call a press conference to deny any association between us two and the film,” says Wadoo. “I am going to wait for three days for Jha to clarify the matter. I may be forced to move to court and seek a stay on the release of the film,” says Wadoo.

The footballer has also sent an email to Jha asking him to “issue an authorised letter wherein Jha will write that we have never met and this film has nothing to do with me and he has used my name by mistake.”

Jha tried to pacify Wadoo by offering him a screening of the movie at Mumbai before the film was released. “But I told him that I have no interest in this entire thing and kindly detach my name from this film,” says Wadoo.

Bollywood has a long association with Kashmir that has kept changing contours from one aspect to another. Right from sixties, films like Barsaat, Kashmir Ki Kali, Junglee, Betaab and others depicted spectacular scenery of Kashmir. But that suddenly changed when insurgency erupted in late eighties.

Once portrayed as heaven on earth, Kashmir’s depiction became that of a terrorist den. Since early 90s, majority of anti national villains depicted in Indian films could be traced to Kashmiri insurgents.

Incidentally Sikander is the second film after Tahaan that delves on the subject of children in Kashmir. Tahaan directed by Santosh Sivan was based on the story of a child whose donkey was lost, but it touched various aspects of insurgency in Kashmir.

Though critically acclaimed, Tahaan couldn’t do well at the box office.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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