Bollywood makes a comeback to Valley
12 December 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Bollywood appears to have made a comeback to one of its favourite shooting locales in the country - Kashmir valley - but film-makers and State authorities want to keep it a low-key affair. The move is part of a well thought-out strategy to avoid hype as the authorities here had a bitter experience of highlighting the arrival of tourists who became soft targets of militants over the past two years, highly placed sources said. They said the presence of film personalities who have started flocking to Kashmir after a long gap, will give a fillip to tourism in the State. The Valley was a favourite shooting spot for Hindi film producers in 1960s, 70s and 80s before the onset of militancy in 1990 with several bolloywood blockbusters like 'silsila', 'karma', 'aarzoo', 'mangal pandey', 'betaab' and many others being shot here. However, the eruption in militancy forced the film-makers to look for other places as the security situation did not permit shooting of movies in the valley. Although bits and parts of several Bollywood films were shot in Kashmir in the post-militancy period, the producers as well as the authorities here now want to maintain a low profile during the stay of the stars in the Valley. Recently, a crew from Santosh Sivan Films Limited were in Pahalgam tourist resort for a 25-day shooting for an untitled movie but their movement and schedule was kept a tightly guarded secret. However, when media persons came to know about the film’s shooting schedule, the liason officer of the crew said they had decided not to shoot in Kashmir any more as the locations were 'not upto their expectations'. 'We have decided not to shoot in Kashmir for this venture,' Ritesh Menon, the liason officer, said. However, his statement proved to be a bluff to throw the media people off the trail and an attempt to avoid the limelight - a move which failed as the weather played the spoilsport. Film actor Anupam Kher and some other actors were stranded in heavy snowfall in Aaru area of Pahalgam Resort on Sunday and had to be rescued by a special police party. Besides Kher, Rahul Bose, Sarika, Rahul Khanna and Victor Banerjee were also scheduled to shoot for the film here but it was not clear whether they had come for shooting or not. Maintaining a studied silence over the proposed visit of film stars for shooting in snowfall, a security official said 'we are here to ensure all possible help for anyone planning to visit the Valley'. However, for local residents, especially those associated with tourism, the news about the presence of Bolloywood personalities was greeted with cheers. 'I heard about the shooting going on in the periphery of Pahalgam. It is a good omen,' Farooq Ahmad, a hotelier, said. However, Abdul Salam Bajad, a young horse rider, could take a glimpse of the stars, but from a distance. 'The policemen did not allow us to go near the shooting scene, so we watched the shooting from a distance,' he said. An official in the Tourism Department in Pahalgam, however, denied of the presence of any film stars. 'I have not heard of such a thing,' he said.