Imtiyaz Ali, Kabir Khan, Vishal Bhardwaj Lead Charge for Renewed Filmmaking in Kashmir Valley

Imtiyaz Ali, Kabir Khan, Vishal Bhardwaj Lead Charge for Renewed Filmmaking in Kashmir Valley

A Shot in the Arm for Kashmir: Top Bollywood Directors Champion Film Industry’s Growth

Bollywood’s star movie directors on Thursday held no-holds-barred deliberations with locals about the magical reel life and sought to further strengthen the decades old relation between scenic Kashmir and the silver screen by prodding locals to enter into film-making.

In a rare bid to share the knowledge of cinema at a place where movie-making almost halted in the past three decades, Bollywood directors Vishal Bharadwaj, Imtiyaz Ali, Kabir Khan, and actor Sanjay Suri made it easy for local audience to understand what it requires to leave a mark in cinema. They were speaking at the ‘Film Tourism and its potential in promoting J&K Tourism’ session of the two-day tourism conclave held at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC).

With many in the audience identifying the real and imagined hurdles to arrive at cinematic skills, Mr. Ali, who put a fresh spotlight on Kashmir through movies like Rockstar and Highway, asked locals “to work hard to leave a mark”. “People of Kashmir will have to dispel the persisting resistance regarding opening of cinema halls and people choosing films as career,” Mr. Ali said. He said Bollywood always awaits a good script with Kashmir theme.

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Around a dozen cinema halls closed in Kashmir with the onset of militancy in the 1990s. In the past five years, the Lieutenant Governor’s administration has been reviving cinema in Kashmir by reopening cinema halls in every district across the Valley.

Director Khan, whose blockbuster movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan put spotlight on Kashmir’s Sonamarg, dispelled the myth of the existence of a bloc in the Bollywood. “None of our relatives were in the Bollywood. We flew from different States and today came to represent Bollywood, which yearns for new talent. It requires a lot of hard work though. The key is the passion to do something different,” Mr. Khan said.

He praised the locals for their cooperation and understanding of the making of cinema. “Besides the fact it’s reasonably easy to get permission for shooting and provides scenery, it’s the people who genuinely help in film-making. Shooting in Delhi is far harder than Kashmir. It’s much easier to have an audience of three thousand to stay silent in Kashmir while shooting at a location. They understand what is required when dialogues are recorded. This one element makes all the difference,” Mr. Khan said.

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In a bid to attract local film-makers, Mr. Bharadwaj, whose film Haider brought to fore multiple layers of Kashmir’s violent past, asked locals to avail from the new film policy. “Local language film-makers can avail double subsidy, which amounts to ₹3 crore. I made my first movie for ₹40 lakhs. A Bengal film costs no more than ₹3-4 crore. They produce good cinema,” Mr. Bharadwaj said.

The introduction of the J&K Film Policy by the J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has resulted in shooting permission of 350 films in the past four years in Kashmir.

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