Is Kashmir safe for film shooting?
In the last two years, the unofficial embargo on shooting in Kashmir was lifted in Bollywood with more Mumbai units shooting there.
With the stone-pelting incident this week at Pahalgam in Kashmir where Emraan Hashmi and the crew of his underproduction film Ground Zero were attacked by a stone-pelter, brings into light the safety factor of film crews from Mumbai in the Valley Of The Dal.
In the last two years, the unofficial embargo on shooting in Kashmir was lifted in Bollywood with more Mumbai units shooting there. But after Article 370 was repealed in 2019, there were reports of Bollywood running scared from Kashmir. Mahesh Bhatt’s Sadak 2 and the Vikram Batra biopic Shershaah were affected. Alia Bhatt who played the lead in her father Mahesh Bhatt’s Sadak 2 confirmed to this writer that the shooting of the film in Kashmir had been cancelled and moved to another location.
Prior to the repealment of Article 370, a slew of Bollywood films about Kashmiris were shot in Kashmir. Aijaz Khan’s Hamid, which was about a little Kashmiri boy’s search for his missing father, was shot entirely in Kashmir. Nitin Kakkar’s Notebook took us on a romantic excursion through Kashmir. The week after Notebook was released in 2019 we had Ashvin Kumar’s controversial No Fathers In Kashmir which again was filmed entirely in Kashmir.
In 2011, Rishi Kapoor had re-visited all those places in Kashmir where his first film as a leading man Bobby had been shot. He also visited Gulmarg where his father Raj Kapoor filmed the hit song Chabhi Kho Jaye. Revisiting the romantic song Rishi told me it was as though time had frozen over there. The same cottage, the same greenery, the same flowers in bloom, and even the colours of the flowers were exactly the same.
Getting sentimental, Rishi had said, “I visited after 23 years. Ranbir has been to Kashmir when he was a baby. I thought these types of situations only appeared in films where a man connects to his past but see and behold this is for real! This is Gulmarg, this is Kashmir, the place that made me whatever I am. Ever and ever in love and indebted to Kashmir. So happy Ranbir too shot in Kashmir for Rockstar! ”
Recalling his family’s long association with Kashmir, Rishi said to me “My grandfather Prithviraj Kapoor had visited Kashmir with his theatre group for two months in the 1940s. Do you know, my father Raj Kapoor was the first filmmaker to shoot in Kashmir? He shot Barsaat in the Valley. He couldn’t afford to take the whole crew, so he went with just the cameraman Jal Mistry. Then of course I don’t have to tell you about Mr. Shammi Kapoor and Mr. Shashi Kapoor’s association with Kashmir in films like Kashmir Ki Kali and Jab Jab Phool Khile. I shot fifteen films in Kashmir including my first film as a hero. I am proud to say my son Ranbir also shot in the Valley for Rockstar.”
Rishi Kapoor’s daughter-in-law Alia Bhatt who shot in Kashmir for Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi says the Valley is truly paradise on earth.
Just when Bollywood was again looking towards Kashmir as ‘paradise on earth’ this ugly stone-pelting incident has exposed the danger of violence that lurks just underneath the calm surface.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.
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