Bollywood returns to the valley
K ashmir and Bollywood have always shared a special relationship, with films such as Junglee (1961), Bobby (1973), Kabhie Kabhie (1976), and more recently, Rockstar (2011), Highway and Haider (both 2014) consistently shot in the valley over the years. This year, too, will see films with Kashmir as the backdrop, as filmmakers continue to flock to the state for recce and shoots.
A lot of upcoming films have also been shot over the past year in the valley, from filmmaker Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary, Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi, to Divya Dutta-starrer Gul Makai (based on the young Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai), and filmmaker Sajid Ali’s Laila Majnu.
Actor Sidharth Malhotra says, “We have shot widely in Kashmir (for Aiyaary), and I haven’t witnessed anything negative. The armed forces understand that they need to send a positive message to the people by allowing a film to be shot there.”
And indeed, neither the authorities, nor Bollywood is backing out of shooting films in
the troubled state. Filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra plans to shoot his upcoming film, based on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandit community, in the state. Singer Nakash Aziz and actor Shiv Pandit will shoot a love track at Gulmarg. Actor Ranjha Vikram Singh, too, has been shooting for a film at the hill station, Sonamarg.
Kabir Khan, who has shot Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Phantom (2015) in Kashmir says he will gladly return to the valley if a future script demands so. He says, “We got overwhelming support from locals, the tourism industry, security forces, and hotel people. We were also given permission to shoot wherever we wanted to.”
The man responsible for most of it — line producer for Bollywood films in Kashmir, Khawar Jamsheed, says, “We help them get permissions, secure lodging, locations, and equipment. We try to give the best facilities available to us. Even the charges for shooting are very low.” He goes on to note, “Bollywood has again started making inroads into the valley, which is a positive sign. It will definitely provide an impetus to the Kashmir tourism sector,” he notes.
From top : Manoj Bajpayee and Sidharth Malhotra in Aiyaary, which has been shot in Kashmir; Divya Dutta with the crew of the film Gul Makai; Alia Bhatt on her Raazi schedule, in Kashmir