Filmmakers are making a beeline for shootings in the scenic splendor of locales of Jammu and Kashmir especially after recent launch of maiden Film Policy by Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, which has incentivized film shootings in the Union Territory.
In January 2021, Bollywood’s big banners arrived in Kashmir giving a major shot in the arm to tourism sector which was facing huge losses.
The visiting Bollywood team was comprised of a 24 member Bollywood delegation including members of the Ajay Devgun Films, the Sanjay Dutt Productions, the Reliance Entertainment, the Rohit Shetty Films, the Zee Studios, the Adhikari Brothers and SAB (Marathi), the Endemol, Director Raj Kumar Hirani and the Excel Entertainment besides several representatives from the Producers Guild, Mumbai.
“Top production houses have visited various locations in the Union Territory having the charming natural beauty and potential of shooting variety of subjects. 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,” Director, Tourism, Kashmir, an official said.
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.
“We will bring Kashmir back to the film industry the way it was in 1960s,” said film Producer Siddharth Roy Kapur on his recent visit to Kashmir, during the Gurmarg Winter Festival 2021. The three day festival which commenced on February 6, 2021, saw the presence of Bollywood celebrities like Siddharth Roy Kapur, Vidya Balan, Neelam Kothari and Arbaaz Khan.
Bollywood actor Neelam Kothari asserted that she will encourage her colleagues, producers and directors of the industry to shoot their films in Kashmir valley especially in picturesque Gulmarg.
“Kashmir is very near to my heart as my first picture “Jawaani” was shot in beautiful locations of Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam”, the gorgeous actress asserted on the side lines of “Gulmarg Winter Festival” organized by the Army to celebrate 75th year of Indian Independence “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahtsav”.
She said the Bollywood film industry can shoot their films in the beautiful locations of Kashmir very happily and comfortably as there is no fear or threat and the atmosphere has entirely changed.
Recently, Sara Ali Khan, daughter of actor Saif Ali Khan visited the Valley twice in the last nine months, her January trip being the latest. Sara has been posting her videos and pictures about Kashmir all over social media.
Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, at the launch of the Union Territory’s 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 Rajkumar Hirani, aims at establishing Jammu and Kashmir as the first choice for film shooting destination for the filmmakers.
Actor Aamir Khan has called the Jammu & Kashmir’s Film Policy-2021 a “moment of happiness” for the entire film industry.
“I want to congratulate Manoj Sinha and am also thankful to him for this Film Policy. It is a moment of happiness for the film industry and we will get several facilities and it will make shooting films here easy. I wish the whole team all the very best,” Khan said.
The 56 year old actor also thanked the people of the valley for showering them with love.
Tollywood film makers are equally enthusiastic to shoot in Kashmir and capture the breathtaking 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.
Another Kannada actor Rakshit Shetty shot for film 777 Charlie in November 2020. Also, Malayalam film Janeman was shot at various locations in Kashmir. Besides, renowned Telugu film star 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 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 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 union territory, setting up of Jammu and Kashmir Film Development Council and providing hands on access to website 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.