There was a time in the 60s and the 70s when Jammu & Kashmir used to be the favourite shooting spot for Bollywood. Stars like Shammi Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar are associated with some memorable films shot in J& K! With the emergence of Yash Raj Films as a premier production house the outdoor scene shifted to Europe and in particular Holland. But this in no way deterred others to move away from 'Shikaras' of Kashmir and makers continued to throng the state.
However, with terrorism taking over from the mid-80s, the shootings stopped completely in Kashmir, with just a few exceptions and mostly in the relatively safe Patnitop area of Jammu district. Filmmakers shifted to Ooty down south and a host of films were shot there. But when Subhash Ghai shot his SAUDAGAR, Mani Ratnam ROJA and R.K. Banner's HENNA (all in the 90s) in Himachal Pradesh and exploded the picturesque locales of Kullu-Manali, it opened the floodgates. Almost every filmmaker moved over to the hill station and the trend continues till date with Rakesh Roshan shooting almost the entire first half of KRRISH in Manali and a large chunk of Imtiaz Ali's JAB WE MET was canned there.
Ironic as it may sound but Bollywood's favourite shooting venue for the last two decades, Manali, did not have even a single cinema hall! There were a few shady joints that screened pirated prints for a limited audience. But the good news is that finally Manali has a cinema hall, Piccadilly that is strategically located at the Mall, and is starting its operations with Vashu Bhagnani's KAL KISSNE DEKHA!
When we talked to the owner, Shyam Sharma, he echoed our sentiments and said, ''People used to complain that despite so many film shoots, Manali has the ignominious distinction of having no cinemas and that is why we went ahead with Piccadilly. Right now we have just a single screen with capacity of 280, but if we get a good response, more screens will be added.''
Well, here is wishing Manali many more cinemas and film shoots!