SRINAGAR: Filmmakers, mainly from Bollywood and Tollywood, are making a beeline for shooting in the scenic splendour of locales of Jammu and Kashmir especially after the recent launch of the Union Territory’s maiden film policy by Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, officials here said on Friday. They added that the policy which offers several incentives towards smooth facilitation of filmmaking has incentivized outdoor shootings in J&K.
An official release issued here said that in January 2021, Bollywood’s big banners arrived in Kashmir Valley, “giving a major shot in the arm to the tourism sector which was facing huge losses”.
It said that the visiting Bollywood team comprised of a 24-member delegation representing Ajay Devgan Films, Sanjay Dutt Productions, Reliance Entertainment, Rohit Shetty Films, Zee Studios, Adhikari Brothers and SAB (Marathi), The Endemol and the Excel Entertainment besides director Raj Kumar Hirani and several representatives from the Producers Guild, Mumbai.
“Top production houses have visited various locations in the UT having the charming natural beauty and potential of shooting variety of subjects,” the statement stated. It, quoting Director Tourism, “Kashmir has been receiving good response from film makers since the opening of tourism here in addition to the regional entertainment houses for shooting song sequences and commercial advertisements.”
The statement said that Bollywood directors have chosen Kashmir as the filming ground for many of their movies due to its picturesque landscapes. “The shooting of many popular movies like Highway, Phantom, Fitoor, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Raazi, Haider, 3 Idiots and more happened in Kashmir.”
It quoted film producer Siddharth Roy Kapur having said during his recent visit to the Valley, “We will bring Kashmir back to the film industry the way it was in the 1960s.”
It recalled that a three-day winter festival at ski resort of Gulmarg saw the presence of Bollywood celebrities like Kapur, Vidya Balan, Neelam Kothari and Arbaaz Khan. Kothari had asserted that she will encourage her colleagues, producers and directors of the industry to shoot their films in Kashmir Valley especially Gulmarg. “Kashmir is very near to my heart as my first picture ‘Jawaani’ was shot in beautiful locations of Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam”, she had asserted on the side lines of festival” organized by the Army to celebrate the 75th year of Indian Independence “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahtsav”.
She had said that the Bollywood film industry can shoot films in the beautiful locations of Kashmir ‘very happily and comfortably as there is no fear or threat and the atmosphere has entirely changed’.
The official statement said that Sara Ali Khan, daughter of actor Saif Ali Khan, also visited the Valley twice in the last nine months, her January 2022 trip being the latest. Sara has been posting her videos and pictures about Kashmir all over social media.
Lt. Governor Sinha, at the launch of the film policy, had said, “It has been worked out to facilitate overall growth of film industry in the region including setting up of a film development council and revival of closed cinema halls”. The policy, launched at a star-studded event in presence of actor Aamir Khan and filmmaker Hirani, aims at establishing J&K as the first choice for film shooting destination for the filmmakers. Aamir Khan had called the policy a “moment of happiness” for the entire film industry.
“Tollywood film makers are equally enthusiastic to shoot in Kashmir and capture the breath-taking landscapes in their movies. Film makers Kannada superstar Puneeth Rajkumar shot for the film James in February 2021. South film actress Priyamani’s team also shot last month in remote areas of Doodhpathri with new entrants Kiara and Sonal,” the statement said.
It also said that another Kannada actor Rakshit Shetty shot for film 777 Charlie in November 2020 and Malayalam film Janeman was shot at various locations in Kashmir. Besides, renowned Telugu film stars Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas and Nabha Natesh shot for a film in January 2021. “The shooting experience for James with Puneeth Rajkumar has been exhilarating and we enjoyed shooting in Kashmir,” Chethan Kumar, director of the film James was quoted in the media.
Top cinematographer and filmmaker, Ravi Varman, who had shot in Kashmir for the film Kaattru Veliyidai has said, “Kashmir is one of the most beautiful places in our country. Kashmiris are very friendly and they are like south Indians a lot.”
South film actor and comedian known for his comic expressions, Ali Basha, who was recently shooting for a Telugu song in Kashmir had said, “The south film industry should make a comeback to the enchanting valley for the shootings.”
According to officials, the new film policy has been worked out to promote overall growth of film industry in the UT, setting up of J&K Film Development Council and providing hands on access to websites for talent pool and all shooting destinations. It will also facilitate the development of shooting locales, infrastructure for film screening, revival of closed cinema halls, upgrading existing cinema halls, encouraging setting up of multiplexes, destination marketing, organizing the J&K film festival, and restoration and preservation of films from the region, they added.