Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha recently launched the new Union Territory’s Film Policy on August 5, which will also aim in reopening of cinema halls.
Under the new policy the government has decided to encourage the owners to re-open closed cinema halls.
The defunct cinema halls in Kashmir since 1990s after the outbreak of militancy may likely to get a life after this new policy. Kashmir’s lost golden era will be revived back on the silver screen.
According to policy document, for bringing back the public into the cinema halls it is imperative to have high-grade facilities in film screening halls. Also the policy further reads that the modern cinema theatre should be able to provide a unique experience which otherwise is not available while watching movies at home.
The government will also upgrade the already existing theatres, encourage multiplexes and cinema halls, marketing of famous destinations, organising festivals, preservation of JKFilms, etc.
Various steps to promote J&K as a leading destination for shooting and production of all feature and non-feature content films, digital content and television shows will be taken by the Jammu & Kashmir Film Development Council (JKFDC).
In total there were 15 functional cinema halls in the valley in the 1980’s of which nine were in Srinagar. The most famous cinemas were Broadway, Regal, Neelam, Palladium, Firdaus, Shiraz, Khayam, Naaz, Shah in Srinagar. But, since the outbreak of the militancy, security forces took over these cinema halls for their stay and they are lying in a worn out condition.
Zameer Ashai, an actor, called the old days as good days when he was able to watch his favourite movies in cinemas.
Bollywood actor Mir Sarwar said that it was the late 80s when he watched the Bollywood film Ilzam in Broadway cinema for the first time which was totally a different experience.
Kashmir-based playwright, theatre and visual storyteller Arshad Mushtaq believes that there is no need for cinemas in the valley unless local films are made. He said that in the last 30-years, only eight Kashmiri films have been made so he believes that there wouldn’t be any need for cinemas unless more films are made.
Arshad further said that one needs to see what kind of films are to be screened in the cinema if authorities are reopening them and added that he doesn’t think one needs cinema in the times of OTT.
Kashmir World Film Festival (KWFF) which is taking place in Srinagar since 2017 keeps reminding the residents of the joy of going to the cinemas. The festival screens local, national and international movies.
Founder and festival director, Mushtaaque Ali Ahmad Khan said that the aim to hold this festival is to screen the world class films in Kashmir for the general masses especially the youth and a platform is provided for showcasing filmmaking talent.