Light, Camera, Action!
In the cozy chatter at home, often my father and uncles would talk fondly of the happy yesteryears when Kashmir would bristle with merriment, enjoyment and entertainment. They would often talk about Kashmir being the second home for Bollywood, and how cinema was one of the main sources of entertainment for people in both villages and urban centers. Every district headquarter had a cinema hall or more, and Srinagar alone had around a dozen cinemas, famous among them – Palladium, Regal, Sheeraz, Neelam, Khayam, Broadway, Naaz and Firdous. The movie shows would go on till late in the night, and there was no threat for anyone from anybody for watching a movie. The religious dictates and terrorist hitouts for cine-goers were not then. My father would often say ‘those were the golden days’. I was a kid in 1989, so I have no memory of or have any idea of how Kashmir was forced to shun doors on anything that was entertainment or that would broaden the world view of people or throw the new opportunities before them. How painful it would have been for cinema lovers and movie buffs to see cinemas being shut forcibly on religious orders and terror threats? I can’t fathom. What I only know is that cinemas were among the main targets of those monsters waving guns on Kashmir’s streets who were there to force their narrow world view and zealotry on others through the barrel of a gun.
But as every night is followed by a bright sun, so has been happening with Kashmir for the past over three years. The dark clouds of terrorism hovering over serene skies of Kashmir are finally giving way to the silver linings of peace and development and a new dawn of hope, dreams, confidence, and aspirations of people is being woven on its horizons.
Three-Decades Long Wait Is Over
Tuesday’s (September 20, 2022) development in Srinagar was one such silver lining, sending the dark clouds of the past into oblivion. After over three-decades long wait, the cinemas finally opened in Srinagar, much to the satisfaction and happiness of the people at large. The gap of 32 years is huge for a society to deny the means of entertainment, and no ideology of terror or hate can keep people hostage for long. The entertainment starved residents of Kashmir had a last laugh.
With the inauguration of ‘Inox’ Multiplex in Srinagar and two multipurpose cinema halls in Shopian and Pulwama districts by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Kashmir moviegoers have a reason to smile, and it seems Kashmir is poised to live its happy past once again.
A bunch of young boys, outside the Inox Multiplex in Shivpora Srinagar, were all jubilant on this historical development happening in Kashmir. “We were eagerly waiting for the opening of the cinema in Srinagar. Till now we would go to a theatre for a movie only when we travelled outside Kashmir. With the reintroduction of cinemas here, our dream is finally realised,” they said to media persons.
Stop Painting Kashmir Black
The development is also a slap on all those political forces who want to paint everything black in Kashmir, and negate any positive thing happening in Kashmir. LG Sinha rightly said: “The opening of multiplexes first in Shopian and Pulwama and then in Srinagar marks the revival of cinema culture in Kashmir after three decades’ Surely, the LG is aware of his responsibility and role as the head of the administration to ensure that the urge of our younger generation to see a better society, to learn about other cultures, to become part of the interdependent world is met. Opening the sources of entertainment, innovation and sports for youth is the harbinger of a bright future ahead. Such big steps will surely bring a major socio-economic revolution in J&K.
In fact, Jammu and Kashmir is on a path of overall development ever since Article 370 was scrapped and the erstwhile state was divided into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Kashmir is changing for good, particularly for its youth. The change is possible only because of the unflinching efforts put in by the Manoj Sinha led administration to turn the ‘Naya Kashmir’ dream and vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah into reality. As LG Manoj Sinha himself said: “J&K is today stronger and more self-confident than ever before.”
We Find Cinema Lovers Everywhere In Kashmir
Despite braving the worst situations in the past, Kashmiris never stopped watching films either in their homes or in cinemas while travelling to other cities of the country. We find cinema lovers everywhere in Kashmir and cinemas have a great history in the Valley. Almost every Bollywood movie till late 80’s would have shootings in Kashmir, and the Valley for its sylvan settings was a preferred shooting destination. In 1965, a Bollywood blockbuster of yesteryears, ‘Janwar’, starring famous Bollywood actor Shami Kapoor was screened at Broadway cinema.
Now, according to the new Film Policy set in motion by the LG administration, the J&K government was identifying catalogues and developing promising potential shooting locations that have aesthetic and cinematic appeal. As a positive step, a lot of movies were shot in Kashmir recently and more are in the pipeline. “Film city will also be set up soon as we are at it,” he said. “We will give a lot of incentives to young filmmakers under the new film policy so that local employment is generated.”
The Jammu and Kashmir Film Development Council (JKFDC) has taken several initiatives to promote J&K as a leading destination for the shooting and production of all feature and non-feature content films, digital content, and television shows. The list of deliverables for producers of incentivised films would include the incorporation of the logo of the Jammu and Kashmir Film Development Council, proof of which would be enclosed along with the documents for subsidy.
The new cinema halls and ongoing film shootings will renew the beautiful bond between Jammu Kashmir and the Indian Film Industry. In short a new history of peace, prosperity, progress and inclusivity is being written for J&K through cinema. Once again the golden era of cinema and film-shooting will start in Jammu Kashmir.