November 2017 News

Kashmir Cranks The Reel Back To The Cinema Hall

1 November 2017
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: As Mainz Raat, the first Kashmiri feature film released in 1964, started rolling on the screen in Tagore Hall here on Wednesday, students in the audience broke into whistles and applause. The young people, scores of them from various universities in the Valley, were watching a film in a cinema for the first time in their lives. When its opening scene of children playing hopscotch in a village played out on the screen, the black-and-white film also kicked off a rare film festival in Kashmir, where cinemas shut three decades ago. The five-day festival, which will screen Hindi, Hollywood, Italian, Polish, Japanese and Persian films, is being organised by Mustaaque Ali, curator of the Kashmir World Film Festival. 'This is a small step to revive the lost movie culture in Kashmir,' Mr. Ali told The Hindu. Bollywood writers and filmmakers like Saeed Mirza, Anwar Jamal, Rahat Kazmi, Anuraj Patil, Gowhar Raza and Govind Nihalani and actor Rajat Kapoor were present. 'The film festival is a platform for the younger generation to find their own voices in cinema in the future. The format of the festival is to watch the film, talk the film and make a film,' Nihalani, a six-time National Film Award winner, said. Director Mirza said Kashmir was full of stories. 'Youth need to come out and do cinema,' he said. 'I have never been to a cinema in the Valley. I am eager to watch scheduled Hindi movies Andaz and Pyasa on the big screen,' Rashid Ahmad, a student, said. Victim of militancy All nine cinemas of Srinagar has been closed since militancy erupted in 1989. The government's attempt to revive cinemas in 1999 failed to bring people to the halls, as one in Lal Chowk came under attack from militants following the screening of the Sunny Deol-starrer Pyar Koyi Khel Nahi. All three cinemas that reopened in 1999 closed down. 'Prior to 1989, cinema used to be a family affair in Kashmir. It used to connect families. It still has the power to hold families together as the Internet age is curtailing interactions otherwise,' said State Public Works Minister Naeem Akhtar, who had come to watch the movie. He described the festival as 'a rare candle being held against a tempest in Kashmir'. The organisers are planning to introduce the audience in the Valley to features, short documentaries, short animation and experimental films. 'Around 30 films in different languages will be screened during the festival,' curator Ali said.