Kashmir revivies Bollywood connection

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  1. ejazr

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    KASHMIR S BOLLYWOOD CONNECTION Lastupdate:- Tue, 3 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT GreaterKashmir.com

    Khawar Jamsheed (28) recently waived off a 150 member film crew of Dharma Productions after Karan Johar shot a portion of his upcoming movie ‘Student of the Year’ in Kashmir. It was a proud moment for this young man as “Johar hugged him thanks” as he was about to board a plane back to Mumbai.
    Few years ago Khawar, who works as a contractor, came across Bollywood incidentally. But he seems to have discovered a new career. Now that Jamsheed is seriously into his new vocation, learning the nuances of the job, he surely seems to have learned a little about “nothing counts more for a filmmaker than a quality day of shooting and If he returns satisfied and cheerful from here, his word of praise for the place will bring more film units and more shooting and more work” say Jamsheed with confidence.
    For Jamsheed, all this started few years back when he hosted his relative, Imtiyaz Ali of Rockstar fame, and his crew members at home for few days and then went on to work for them on the Ranbir Kapoor starrer flick. Since then he continues getting offers from producers. “My coincidental introduction with Bollywood gives hope to me and for Bollywood’s happy return to our Valley” he says. It has also signaled that it will open doors for other youngsters to make their career out of this and in turn will strengthen Kashmir’s Bollywood connection.
    Jamsheed is among a growing Kashmiri youth turning to Bollywood. For some, film industry gives vent to their creative talent, for others, it means more revenue and more tourism for Kashmir. They range from tourism related community to professional artists taking up photography, script writing and music, and even consultation jobs to keep Kashmir’s connection with the film industry intact.

    SERVICE TO BOLLYWOOD
    While Bollywood acclaims young Kashmiri faces like Muzamil Ibrahim, Mohsin Akhter and Muzamil Akhter for the impressive acting, it also takes the service of people from hospitality and tourism industry of the valley when they are here.
    Asif Burza and Imran Abass are such hoteliers who often serve film units on their visit to Kashmir. Burza’s hotel ‘Pine and Peak’ served as a base site for them in Pahalgam, and Imran caters food for the film units from his hotel Silver Star at Nowgam. For the duo, it is an excellent experience to serve professional people but there are strings attached. “It is not an easy job, it requires good infrastructure and committed professional people” says Imran.
    Senior functionaries in the tourism department say they try to make the shooting of film units hassle free by providing them permission easily. “We don’t charge them any fees for permissions or shooting as their arrival is a biggest promotion for the destination,” says a senior officer.
    However, tourism traders have apprehension that their peak season arrival may be problematic for them as there is no required infrastructure. “Film people won’t compromise on the facility and during peak tourist season it’s difficult for us to serve them as we don’t have such an infrastructure available,” says Asif.
    “Government discourages tourism traders through its cumbersome permission policies. Getting permission for constructing anything at the preferred locations is a very difficult job.” Abass says a single window system for issuing NOCs shall help to encourage unemployed youth come up with innovative ideas for the tourism trade. “If more and more people join this industry, then serving high-end tourists and film units will be easy,” he believes.

    ARTIST CONCERN
    At Zero Inn, an exclusive meeting point for artists in Srinagar, the ambiance is abuzz with discussions. Everyone is busy discussing their future projects for TV, and when asked, about their Bollywood connection they have grievances. For these creative artists - actors, musicians, technicians and others - film units do not benefit them. “We always wish to offer our services to Bollywood but they don’t approach us, they are looking for tour guides alone,” says an artist
    The artist community feels it’s their right to get bookings in such ventures as junior artists and technicians, if not the major roles, but it does not happen “it could have given us a good experience, But ! ” expresses Wahid Jeelani, popular local composer and singer.
    “Every artist belongs to a particular group here and whenever any film unit comes they should contact those groups for creative input. They did it in the time of Lamhaa, but film producers often bypass the local artists,” Jeelani says.
    Arshad Mushtaq, a Kashmiri Filmmaker and theater director feels, that using Kashmir as a beautiful location alone won’t do. “Bollywood has to change its attitude towards Kashmir”. For them Kashmir has always been a honeymoon spot and that is all they want to project it as.
    The Director of Kashmir’s first feature film in last four decades ‘Akh Daleel Loolech’ Aarshad stresses, that the lack of Kashmiri centric projects in Bollywood keeps a little room for Kashmiri creative artist community. “There is no hope, Bollywood will continue making it’s unrealistic caricatures, their so called actors jump over snow, yelling ‘Yahoo’ to ‘Ya Ya Ya’, and in such ventures there is no role for a genuine Kashmiri artist, it will never ever be able to make any difference”.

    A POSITIVE SIGNAL
    Until 2009, people knew only two movies, Mani Ratnam’s ‘Roja’ and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘Mission Kashmir’ for shooting in Kashmir since the start of militancy when Bollywood took its cameras, casts and crew to neighboring countries or Switzerland, where a mini-industry has grown up catering to them.
    During this time only a handful of filmmakers dared to shoot in Kashmir, however the region has attracted film writers and directors only for militancy related ‘hot topics’. Not only themes, the backdrop has also changed from snow clad slopes to war zones and from stars singing in Shikaras to the deadly shootouts in Dal Lake.
    “The romantic themes had taken a back seat then and everyone considered Kashmir as a disturbed zone looking at it from the prism of internal security threat,” says a film critic.
    Roja in which the filmmaker features a newly wed couple troubled in Kashmir, totally shifted the trend in the industry, the critic believes.
    Now as snow melts from the mountaintops to announce spring, Mumbai film industry has already shown positive signal for shooting in valley.
    Khawar believes the impressive hospitality and hassle free shooting inspires other producers to choose valley for their future projects.
    While Ayan Mukherjee completes a four day survey in Kashmir for his next film recently, Anurag Kashap is also planning to shoot his film ‘Lutairey’ here, says Khawar. “I receive calls daily from the executive producers who express their wish to shoot in our beautiful valley,” he says
     
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