With a glint in his eyes, he says, “Especially when Diwali is at Mr (Amitabh) Bachchan’s house, you know that lot of people will be there. Also, in our profession, you don’t meet everybody unless there’s a function. So, it was nice to meet everyone and it’s a feeling of warmth, belonging and togetherness. I realised I’ve missed them all this while.”
Kher has been a part of Hindi film industry for over 35 years now, and being a Kashmiri Pandit, he has always been vocal about his concerns and views towards the community. Nearly 30 years since the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, the actor recalls how the whole incident changed the fate of countless families.
“For me it’s not an incident, for me, it’s my being. It’s not like aap kisi kiraye ke ghar par rehte the aur aapko maalik ne nikaal diya. We’re talking about 300-400 thousand people being thrown out of their houses on the night of January 19, 1990. It’s a wound, which will always have its scar.
Sometimes the wound heals but the memories of pain don’t go,” Kher continues, “It’s the resilience of these people that they haven’t gone up or picked up arms and didn’t become violent. They just learnt to cope with the situation. But that doesn’t mean anybody who was thrown out of their houses has forgotten all of that.”
So was this the reason Kher hailed the government’s decision of scrapping Article 370 earlier this year? He says certainly the decision holds no political connotation for him, and it’s a part of history. “Humein puri jadd se nikal ke faikh diya gaya tha, so that’s why for me, the meaning of Article 370’s abrogation has a completely different meaning.
My mother keeps talking about it because her childhood, her adulthood was spent in Kashmir. For 20 years of my life, all my summer holidays were there. My uncles, aunts, grandparents, parents were there. My mother says now she wants to go there. She keeps thanking PM (Narendra) Modi that ‘ab hum jayenge, mujhe apna ghar wahan banana hi hai’. So, let’s hope that it happens in her lifetime,” adds the 64-year-old.
While one wonders if Kher and his family have visited the valley since the exodus, the actor reveals that he has been there; however, “the last time when I went there, I was stopped at the airport and was not allowed to go any further. I’ve me mentioned about this incident in my autobiography also”.