Bollywood stalwarts visit Kashmir; J&K Tourism plans for robust film shoot policy

When in Kashmir, there is no such thing as a bad photograph.

The same goes for videos and films, which is why movies shot in Kashmir are immensely popular among the masses.

Be it classic blockbusters like Kashmir Ki Kali, Aap ki Kasam, Junglee, Bobby, Betab, Kabhie Kabhie, Khoon Pasina, Karma, or recent hits like Bajrangi Bhaijan, Haider, and Jab Tak Hai Jaan, the movies have showcased the scenic beauty of Kashmir in all its glory.

After months of lockdown, things are finally beginning to look up for the movie fraternity, which is keen to get their crew to Kashmir.

Bollywood Big banners Ajay Devgn FFilms, Rohit Shetty Films, Sanjay Dutt Productions, Lyca Films, Zee Studios, Reliance Entertainment, Rajkumar Hirani Films, Endemol, Marathi and South Producers were represented at highest level by CEOs, Heads of Production and Senior EPs. Also, gurus in niche verticals of AD (Bharat Dabholkar) and Food (Celeb Chef Sanjeev Kapoor) and famous set designer (Nitin Kulkarni) were with the delegation. And so were office bearers of Federation and Western India Cinematographers Association. Nitin Tej Ahuja (CEO Producers Guild of India) was also a part of the delegation.

“The beauty of Kashmir is unparalleled and while the Hindi film industry has a long-standing relationship with the cinematic splendor of the region, it was wonderful to be reacquainted with it in person. Above all, it was heartwarming to revel in the warmth, love, and legendary hospitality of the people and their tremendous love for Bollywood. We are extremely keen on reciprocating the same by encouraging film, television and digital content producers to shoot in J&K. The Guild can and will play a pivotal role in assisting the Government in formulating Ease of Business and Single Window Clearance policies that will aid filmmakers. We appreciate JK Tourism’s initiative to host this FAM, and thank them for the same.”

Ashish Singh, CEO of Lyca and Ex VP Yashraj till Tiger Zinda Hai, said: “Yash ji was always fond of Kashmir and shot so many films in Kashmir, right till his last directorial Jab Tak Hai Jaan, in which I was totally involved. We have always had excellent support in Kashmir, but if skilled manpower and technical equipment was available locally, it will be a huge saving for any producer. We took only 16 member crew to Paris and shot a big budget Befikre, with over 200 local French team. We will always support local manpower. I also am positive Kashmir has the potential to become hub for International Film shoots, and not just Bollywood.”

Itoo, Director Tourism – Kashmir, Govt of J&K, said, “Bollywood has always enjoyed hospitality and love of Kashmiri people. Our relationship with Bollywood spans decades and no other Indian state has had more films shot than Kashmir. The members of the FAM delegation have seen for themselves the beauty of Kashmir, enjoyed its hospitality, visited key designations of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Srinagar, and interacted with some of the highest authorities. We have taken note of their suggestions and guidance and assure them, we will create correct and friendly atmosphere to facilitate smooth filming in Kashmir.”

Abhijeet Patil, Chairman, Dost E Kashmir, Raja Rani Travels, stated that the film fraternity needs no introduction to Kashmir, but needed to get a ground check on the post-Covid situation and security in the valley. “More importantly, it was meant for the fraternity to engage with highest authorities in J&K and update them of changing trends in entertainment content, and guide them in some key aspects required to create correct and conducive ecosystem for smooth shooting in the valley. Even as the FAM is rolling out, we have over a dozen inquiries for shoots in Kashmir and that’s a positive takeaway.”

The familiarization trip had two important engagements.

Hon Lt Governors Principal Secretary Mr Nitishwar Kumar, Secretary Tourism, Sarmad Hafeez and Add. Secretary Tourism Wassem Raja, interacted with the delegates over a video conference from Jammu, and assured of all micro and macro aspects will be implemented as per the requirement of the film fraternity.

Divisional Commissioner in Kashmir Pandurang Pole, also met delegation over lunch, and micro-detailed immediate action points. The FAM trip also focused on the skill development of local youth, alongside a robust film shoot policy with a single-window clearance.