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Bollywood misses the Kashmir idyll

July 27, 2009 2:18:24 PM IST
Ruhail, Bollywood Trade News Network
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Few can dispute the fact that Kashmir used to be one of the hottest destinations for the B-Town brigade. Before the start of the armed struggle in the valley, most of the films produced in Bollywood would be incomplete without the idyllic setting of the Shikaras.

With the start of the insurgency, Kashmir ceased to be the preferred location for the Bollywood producers. The top-most reason for this mind change being the security concern.

If Bollywood has become a global brand today, it has its genesis in Kashmir in a quite intricate way. Imagine, who would prefer to shoot in the far away valleys in Switzerland had Kashmir still existed as an option. Foreign locations became a fad in the Indian film industry only when the 'K' option was never mentioned on the itinerary.

When Bollywood got interrupted in Kashmir, attempts were still made to re-visit the one time favourite destination. Notable among such films would be MISSION KASHMIR, YAHAAN, TAHAAN, and the more recently shot film LAMHAA. All these films made an attempt to reconnect with the magic of the place, but practically speaking, the sentiment has just remained a fragmented reality in Bollywood.

The nostalgia of the place stills rings true for veteran actor Rishi Kapoor, who has shot more than 40 films in Kashmir. He says, ''It's quite unfortunate that Kashmir has become an off-limits destination for us. I still remember the popularity Kashmir hogged during my active career days. I still believe that Kashmir has played a huge role in my professional life. My first film BOBBY was shot in Kashmir and I can't get over the memories of the place. I'm waiting for the day we can go back to the place and capture its beauty on-screen yet again.''

CHECK OUT: Can Kashmir become main stream?

Though Bollywood filmmakers are busy exploring fresh locations with every new film, there's need to alter the mindset of insecurity that prevails among the larger fraternity about shooting in Kashmir. Though the state government made an attempt to convince the bollywood producers to explore the destination once again, but lot can be done still.

Says, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, ''Bollywood has lost Kashmir without making any attempt at regaining it. It's unfortunate not be able to shoot in a place that shares such a strong bond with Bollywood.''

The loss of Kashmir is not only limited to scenic nostalgia but in terms of real moolah too. Says trade analyst Feroze Noorani, ''For the past two decades the cost of production has sky rocketed. Partly, this is the result of losing the desi Switzerland (Kashmir). The cost of boarding and lodging in foreign locales is costing filmmakers a huge amount which can be curbed if Kashmir is bought back on the Bollywood map.''

Though the number of films shot in Kashmir after 1989 can be counted on fingers, Bollywood still seems to harbour the desire to revisit the Shikaras and the Chinars. The upcoming film LAMHAA marks the beginning of a new love-affair between the two inseparable partners, one going through sorrow and the other trying to be its soothing balm.

In the words of Mahesh Bhatt, ''Bollywood does not share a political rapport with Kashmir. It has its own chemistry with the land for the last five decades. It needs to revive the bond once again. As a representative of Bollywood, Kashmir will always remain our all time favourite destination. The lull of two decades between the romance cannot be termed divorce in this case.''

With Bollywood filmmakers making their fixation for Kashmir an open affair, let's hope the relationship between this idyllic setting and Bollywood witnesses a new thaw.


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