Bollywood wants J&K government to set up films commission
If everything goes as per the script, J&K may soon have a full-fledged Films Commission, a single window solution to offer everything that Bollywood needs for working in Kashmir.
“We have a film committee that has representation from tourism, wildlife, forests and police,” Talat Ahmad, Kashmir’s Director Tourism said. “If the suggestion made by the major production houses in Mumbai is implemented, it will be this committee that will get all the powers under a new law.” The suggestion was a major demand in a recent interaction at Mumbai between visiting state tourism minister and the Bollywood bigwigs.
Talat said encouraging film and drama shooting is a sure way of helping the hospitality sector revive fast. “We were getting not more than 80 thousand tourists in Leh before Three Idiots was shot,” Talat said, “Once it was a box office hit and people started talking about Leh that we now get 180 thousands.” He said Indian middle class follows and believes Bollywood.
Even though the hanging of Afzal Guru in February led to many cancellations, more importantly, the cancellation of Fox Studio’s shooting schedule with Katrina Kaif, state’s Tourism Ministry has stepped in to revive the plans. During his recent Mumbai visit, a Tourism Minister led delegation meet the producers of three films: Jab Tak Hai Jan (already released), Jawaani Deewani and Bang Bang.
“Responses were reassuring,” a senior tourism ministry official said. “Producers and directors actually suggested us that that we should encourage local entrepreneurs to invest in creating critical infrastructure so that flying to Kashmir and shooting in Kashmir becomes less costly for Bolloywood – a practice Leh has successfully done to a larger extent.” Other suggestions include investing in bigger hotels in remote locations.
But the trickle of filmi-people is already visible in Srinagar. Film director Imtiaz Ali spent two days in remote Gurez on LoC and returned Srinagar today. He plans a longer sojourn across Kashmir for shooting Highway with Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhat. Siddharat Kumar who wants to produce Mahabharat spent most of Friday in Pahalgam to see how best he can use the breath taking locale’s to integrate Kashmir in one of the most watched epics of India. One of the episodes of the serial is slated to be recorded in Tulip garden on April 24.
The garden that was laid by Ghulam Nabi Azad to advance the tourist season is already playing host to a crew. A Karnataka film unit is shooting for Sweety Nanna Jodi with actor Radhika as its leading lady. Director of the film Vijayalakshmi Singh said the film is ready and they flew to Srinagar and Gulmarg to record just a song.
J&K government does not charge much to the film crews. Most of the basic facilities are complementary because the policy makers believe using Kashmir as a backdrop will offer free publicity. Shooting in Gulmarg and Pahalgam by SRK was a huge reassurance for the Bollowood that Kashmir is safe enough to work but Guru’s hanging and a protracted curfew changed the perception, something authorities are working on. Prior to hanging a major group including Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone spent a fortnight in frozen Gulmarg for shooting Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.