Bollywood is promising to return to Kashmir in a big way nearly after three decades, is yet another achievement for the Government of India that had revoked J&K special status and divided the erstwhile princely state into two union territories on August 5, 2019, with a promise to put J&K on the path of peace, prosperity and development.Jammu and Kashmir prior to 1990 was the favourite destination for film makers. After armed insurgency broke out in early nineties, Bollywood had to snap its ties with Kashmir as the security scenario was not favorable for any movie shoots.Relationship between Bollywood and Kashmir dates back to 1960 when the famous hits like Junglee, Kashmir Ki Kali, Haqeeqat, Arzoo and many more movies were shot in the Valley.From 1960 to 1990 Kashmir was the second home for Bollywood as film makers found the Valley as most adorable and affordable destination for completing projects. Movies that were shot in Kashmir in seventies and eighties featured the superstars like Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachhan, Rekha, Shashi Kapoor and others. But by the time stars like Amir Khan, Sharukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan emerged on the scene Kashmir had turned into a "no go area" for Bollywood.Only four movies, Heena, Roja, Dil Se and Dil Kya Kare were shot in the Valley from 1991 to 1999.
From 2000 to 2010 fifteen movies - Mission Kashmir in 2000, Samsara in 2001, LOC: Kargil in 2002, Ab Tumhare Hawaley Wattan Sathiyon in 2004, Agni Pankh in 2004, Lakshya in 2004, Tango Charlie in 2005, Bunty aur Babli in 2005, Waqt: Race Against Time in 2005, Yahan in 2005, Tashan in 2008, Shauryain 2008, Tahan in 2008, Sikandar in 2009, and 3 Idiots in 2009 - were shot in the Valley.From 2010 to 2019 as many as twenty movies - Lamhaa in 2010, Lahore in 2010, Jo Hum Chaein in 2011, Rockstar in 2011, Saat Khoon Maaf in 2011, Agent Vinod in 2012, Student Of The Year in 2012, Jab Tak Hain Jaan in 2012, Yeh Jawani Diwani in 2012, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in 2013, Highway in 2014, Haider in 2014, Bajrangi Bhaijaan in 2015, Fitoor in 2016, Jolly LLB 2 in 2017, Tubelight in 2017, Raazi in 2018, Kalankin 2019, Uri in 2019 and Romeo Akbar Walter in 2019 - were shot in Kashmir.Prior to 1990 hundreds of Kashmiris used to directly or indirectly earn their livelihood through Bollywood in the Valley. According to official figures there were 17 theatres in Kashmir and hundreds of people were employed in the entertainment industry. All these cinema halls, including audio and video cassette libraries, beauty parlours and salons, wine shops were permanently shut due to militant threats in early nineties.Asiya Andrabi, chairperson of radical women group Dukhtaran-e-Millat, and a militant who prefixed 'Air Marshal' to his name Noor Khan, with Allah Tigers and Hizbullah at their back, forced closure of all the cinema halls in Srinagar, Baramulla, Sopore and Anantnag towns in 1990.
Bollywood Exploring Kashmir Again
After the transition of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State into a union territory and abrogation of its special status on August 5, 2019, the government has put in relentless efforts to bring Bollywood back to the Valley. The process had got stalled due to outbreak of COVID-19 in March last year but the things started to move again this year.On January 29 this year, a 24-member Bollywood delegation arrived in Kashmir on a four day visit. It included director Rajkumar Hirani, members of Ajay Devgan Films, Sanjay Dutt Productions, the Reliance Entertainment, RohitShetty Films, Zee Studios, Adhikari Brothers & SAB (Marathi), Endemol, and Excel Entertainment. The delegation also had the representatives from the Producers Guild, Mumbai.After winding up their visit, members of the delegation had praised the beauty of Kashmir and were of the opinion that the place can be an International film shooting destination.The film makers had exuded hope that they would return to the Valley soon.On February 15 this year when Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha along with his Principal Secretary Nitishwar Kumar, had visited Mumbai a delegation of film-makers - led by Mahaveer Jain had met him to discuss the revival of film shoots in J&K. The delegation included well known filmmakers Dinesh Vijan, Ekta Kapoor, Imtiaz Ali, Nitesh Tiwari, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Sanjay Tripathy, while Karan Johar and Rohit Shetty had spoken to the LG over the phone.
During the past two months prominent Bollywood players have visited J&K to explore the possibilities about making the Union Territory its permanent destination for shooting movies.On March 31 this year, Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha released renowned singer Jubin Nautiyal's music album 'TujheBhoolna Toh Chaha' at General Zorawar Singh Auditorium, University of Jammu. Made under the banner of T-Series and filmed in the picturesque settings of Kashmir, the song also featured Abhishek Singh, an IAS officer & actor, and daughter of the soil, Samreen Kaur.The Lt Governor had termed the occasion as yet another milestone in the direction of making J&K a preferred shooting destination for the film-makers. "The aesthetic beauty of J&K has been beautifully captured through the song. It also marks the revival of J&K's halcyon days of being a cinematographer's delight," he had said.On April 4 this year, renowned film-maker, Kabeer Kaushik called on LG Manoj Sinha in Srinagar and discussed with him the issues pertaining to the promotion of film related activities in J&K.The Lieutenant Governor had assured all possible help to the film-makers from across the world who want to capture the aesthetic beauty of J&K.The LG had told Kaushik that the government was taking effective measures to strengthen the connect between the UT and the film industry, and making J&K the most favourite film shooting destination worldwide.Kaushik had briefed LG Sinha about his upcoming project and had expressed his desire to shoot his next film in the Union Territory.On April 17 this year, film producer, Shiv Sagar, who is the grandson of legendary film-maker Ramanand Sagar, called on LG Manoj Sinha in Jammu and apprised him about his upcoming series on Shri Mata Vaishno Devi."The J&K government is working towards creating a favourable environment for film-making through the new film policy to once again bring back the golden era of showcasing the pristine beauty of the UT on the silver screen," a statement issued by J&K's Information Department had quoted the Lt Governor as having told Sagar
New Film Policy For J&K Soon
On April 12 this year Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had announced that Jammu and Kashmir will soon roll out a "New Film Policy" to attract filmmakers and bring back the golden era of filmmaking in the union territory.While addressing a two-day conference virtually on "tapping the tourism potential of Kashmir - another day in paradise", organised by the Union Ministry of Tourism in Srinagar, Sinha had said various tourist spots of Kashmir were favourite destinations of the Mumbai-based film industry in the 1960s and 1970s."In the coming week or ten days, Jammu and Kashmir's UT administration will come up with a new film policy to bring back Kashmir's golden era on the silver screen," Sinha had said, adding, issues being discussed in the conference will act as a roadmap to achieve that.Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, Prahlad Singh Patel, in his address had stated that Kashmir has witnessed an increase in the number of tourist arrivals after the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019. "The way tourist arrivals started in Srinagar, there is a need to improve infrastructure at the unexplored places and the places with historical importance," he had said.The efforts being put by the government are a clear indication that Bollywood is all set to return to the Valley. May be the outbreak of second wave of COVID-19 may delay the revival of the ties between the Bollywood and J&K but the ball has started to roll and as soon as the Covid curve flattens, Valley could be abuzz with tourists and the filmmakers.