IN 1989, Kashmir changed for ever. Militancy assumed an ugly face in the Valley, altering the lives of Kashmiris and putting a stop to Muzaffar Ali’s ambitious project — Zooni. Ali, then 43, had already made a name for himself through Umrao Jaan and was working on a film about Habba Khatoon, a poetess who lived in 16th century Kashmir and rose to become a queen. Unnerved, he returned to Delhi. Waiting to restart filming Zooni, he began a small project to make films on improving the habitat. At his new office in the Sarai Kale Khan area in south Delhi worked a 20-year-old architecture graduate from Gujarat’s Institute of Environmental Design — Meera Saluja.
IN1989, Lal Krishna Advani embarked on his infamous rath yatra to mobilise the kar sevaks. As his procession travelled through north India, communal violence spread, leaving hundreds dead and a country, long known for its secular values, divided on communal lines.
This is when Kajal Sikka, 21, a Punjabi Khatri girl studying economics at Jesus and Mary College, and Aijaz Ilmi, 28, a Muslim boy from Uttar Pradesh who had just come to Delhi after completing his medical studies in Bengaluru, fell in love.