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India

Kashmir Gets Its First Multiplex, Film City To Be Established With 100 Seater Cinemas In Each District

The launching of the theatre marks the revival of cinema culture in Kashmir after a long gap of over 3 decades after theatres in the valley were shut down in fear of militant attacks in the 1990s.

Photo credits: Umaisar Gull For India Ahead News.

The Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Tuesday inaugurated the erstwhile state’s first-ever 520-seater multiplex cinema hall in Srinagar’s Shivpura area. He also announced that every district in the union territory will have a 100-seater cinema hall. The launching of the theatre marks the revival of cinema culture in Kashmir after a long gap of over 3 decades after theatres in the valley were shut down in fear of militant attacks in the 1990s.

Addressing a gathering of reporters after the inauguration of the three theatre cinemas, Sinha said that in Kashmir there are a lot of film enthusiasts and there has been a prolonged history of cinema in the valley. He said that in past there was a time when people in large numbers would jam-pack the theatres to watch movies. “The cinema was the platform that would encourage them to think and dream big besides providing them (work) opportunities,” he said.

Sinha added that it was in the year 1965 data the Bollywood movie Janwar which featured the famous actor Shammi Kapoor was screened here at the Broadway cinema. “He (Shammi Kapoor) was so in love with Kashmir that he wanted his last rites to be performed at the Dal lake in Srinagar,” Sinha added. He added that Srinagar was an epicentre of cinema entertainment as it had big theatres that included Palladium, Regal, Shiraz, Neelam, Khayyam, Broadway, Naaz, and Firdaus.

Photo credits: Umaisar Gull For India Ahead News.

Calling the relaunch of Cinemas a sign of a “changing picture of J&K”, Sinha added that after August 2019 when article 370 was abrogated, the central government is not just trying to “buy peace in Kashmir but also establish it”. He also said that a film city will also be established in Kashmir and there are plans in the pipeline about it. As per him, the government is also looking at giving subsidies to young filmmakers in the valley as a boost to this filmmaking sector.

Photo credits: Umaisar Gull For India Ahead News.

The cinema is owned by Vijay Dhar and his family and will have the best-in-class technological infrastructure. The government on the other hand is also creating multi-purpose film halls in every district. While they are hopeful and have called the move historic, the response to this revival effort is yet to be seen. The scars that militancy in the valley left on the cinema industry still lie there in the form of deserted halls that once were one of the few sources of entertainment for conflict-torn Kashmiris.

Photo credits: Umaisar Gull For India Ahead News.

As the conflict unfolded, in the year 1989, on August 18, a press note surfaced in the local newspapers, the same newspapers that also carried the show timings of various movies in the cinema theatres. The note was circulated by a militant group name Allah Tigers which had warned of possible attacks in all these theatres if the films did not stop being showcased. The group had termed the practice as Un-Islamic.

The warning was loud that on the first of January 1990, there was no show in any theatre in Kashmir. At that point in time, Farooq Abdullah was the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and he introduced a revival package where in he gave rupees 40,000 to all the theatre owners to renovate and restart the film showcasing in Kashmir.

While many reportedly did opt for the revival package and renovated the theatres, the Regal Cinema was the first to operate again. Broadway and Neelam too had opted and were planning to restart. On the very first day the film was to be showcased there was a huge grenade blast injuring at least 12 people and killing one individual in Regal Cinema. This sent chills down the spine of other cinema owners and no one among the rest ever operated their theatres again.

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