Long wait over, Cinema opens in Srinagar after 33 years

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Shabeer Ahmad

Srinagar, Sep 20: The wait for cinema lovers in Kashmir is now over for the first time in three decades. The multiplexes opened here in Kashmir on Tuesday and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurated the multiplex in Srinagar.

The multiplex came up at Shivpora neighbourhood of Srinagar where the iconic Broadway Cinema stood for decades till all forms of entertainment were banned by the terrorists in December 1989.

The inauguration began with the national anthem before Sinha dedicated the multiplex to the entertainment deprived people of Kashmir. A visual montage displayed Bollywood’s long- time associates with the valley.

LG Sinha peeped into the history of the Bollywood film productions in Kashmir alongside reminiscences of the Indian artistes shooting in the valley in the halcyon decades of the 1950s through 1980s. He spoke in particular about Shammi Kapoor’s passionate tryst with Kashmir and said how the legendary hero’s will of the immersion of his mortal ashes in the famous Dal Lake was fulfilled after his death.

Addressing the gathering after inauguration the first multiplex cinema at Shivpora area of city, the LG Sinha, said that cinema lovers are everywhere in Kashmir and cinemas have a great history in the Valley. “There used to be a time when people in large numbers would come to watch movies along with friends and families. Cinemas would provide them opportunities to think big and dream big besides entertaining them,” the LG said.

He said in 1965, a Bollywood blockbuster of yesteryears, ‘Janwar’, starring famous Bollywood actor Shami Kapoor was screened at Broadway cinema. “Such was the love of Kappor for Kashmir that he had asked his family members to perform his last rites in Dal Lake, Srinagar,” the LG said.

He said Kashmiri people remained entertainment starved for the past three decades and today, the first multiplex will provide the people of Valley a chance to relax and entertain themselves.

“In Pulwama and Shopian districts, two multi-purpose Cinema halls are coming up shortly. We are planning to set up 100-seater Cinema halls in every district of J&K,” the LG said.

He said Srinagar was a hub of entertainment once as the district had almost eight big Cinemas functional— Palladium, Regal, Sheeraz, Neelam, Khayam, Broadway, Naaz and Firdous. “Today, we are trying to bring back the lost era again. Today, the opening of the Cinema reflects the changing picture of J&K,” he said.

The LG said that August, 5, 2019 was a historic day when a massive decision was taken by the Indian parliament. “The government at Delhi is not trying to buy peace in J&K, but to establish it permanently,” he said.

About the new film policy, the J&K LG said that a lot of movies were shot in Kashmir recently and more 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 LG said that those who ruled J&K for years, used to fly outside J&K and even foreign countries for their own entertainment while all means of entertainment remained choked here.
Sinha said that just two days back he had inaugurated two mini cinema theatres for the benefit of the local youths in the one-time terror hubs of Pulwama and Shopian in southern Kashmir. He announced that similar mini theatres were coming up in all the ten districts in the valley under the UT Government’s “Mission Youth”

Chairman and editor-in-chief of India TV, Rajat Sharma, and Chairman of Essel Group, Subhash Chandra, who founded Zee TV in 1992, were present on the occasion as the chief guests.

Rajat Sharma recalled how actor-producer Salman Khan was pessimistic of the revival of Bollywood in Kashmir during the days of the shooting of his film “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” at Sonmarg in 2015. “There were security issues and no internet. The atmosphere was not reassuring. Salman told me how hard it was to shoot a film in Kashmir. Today, I will call him and tell him how our friend Manoj Sinha ji had changed history by inaugurating Kashmir’s first cinema after 33 years”, Sharma asserted.

Later, Aamir Khan’s current release “Laal Singh Chhaddha” was screened for the invited audience. According to the multiplex owner Vijay Dhar’s family members, Inox would start the commercial operations from 30 September when everybody would be free to buy a ticket and enjoy a film at any of the three theatres at the complex.

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