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Yahoo! Action Camera Sound Will Now Echo All Over Kashmir After The Scrapping Of Article 370

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Jyothi Venkatesh

After the Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the government had issued a notification in effect scrapping Article 370 from the Indian Constitution there is jubilation in Bollywood circles. Article 370 of the constitution is a temporary provision which has granted special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. The government also has ordered the division of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. While the Union Territory of Ladakh will be without a legislature, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be with a legislature.

Now, all over the valleys of Kashmir, the sounds of Action, Camera Sound will echo in an abundant measure. The very day the Article 370 was scrapped, actor-politician Paresh Rawal says, “Today is the true and complete independence of our motherland. Today in the true sense of the word INDIA becomes ONE! Jai Hind.”  Producer of Neerja and photographer Atul Kasbekar says, “Time to unconditionally back the government on this daring and long overdue decision. A huge call has been taken n it needs everyone’s support now. I hope we also extend much love and every kind of support to the people of Kashmir so that they feel more and more connected over time”.“Whatever happens in politics, let there be no bloodshed, let sense prevail. We’re one, all Indians. We are a peaceful people. We believe in compassion, not coercion. Be kind peeps”, says Richa Chaddha.

 

Rightly touted to be the paradise on earth, Kashmir, in India provided for a serene and picturesque location for many Bollywood films in the 80s and 90s. However, due to political unrest in the state filmmakers took to other foreign locales for the same. Now, they are all back to the bay again and the paradise in India has yet again become the most favourite shooting location for Bollywood producers.

In my youthful 30’s, I recollect the pleasant 5 days way back in 1987 when I spent with the unit of late producer Sattee Shourie’s (Arjun Kapoor’s grandmother and the mother of Boney’s first wife Mona Kapoor) film Farishtay in Srinagar with Rajanikant and Sridevi when she was shooting for some dramatic sequences there. It was then that the video magazine Eknath had sprung up and Satteeji had invited me to cover her shooting for posterity. Since Rajanikant is my old friend, I went all the way to Srinagar at Satteeji’s expense to stay there with the unit and cover the shooting. Rajanikant and I used to go for walking after the pack up every day before we used to wind up at his suite for drinks and dinner. Anil Sharma the director used to report at the dot of 8 am and shoot till 8 pm since the sun used to set late there.

 

Not just Junglee and Kashmir Ki Kali earlier and Kabhi Kabhie  way back in the mid 70’s but also films like Bajrangi BhaijaanSaat Khoon Maaf, Yahaan, Rockstar, Mission Kashmir, Student of The Year, Jab Tak Hai JaanFitoor,  TubelightUri: The Surgical Strike and  Kalank were some of the movies that were shot in Kashmir.The love affair between Bollywood and Kashmir is long-standing. From Sharmila Tagore to Alia Bhatt, the late Shammi Kapoor to Salman Khan, actors down the generations have starred in blockbusters that saw filmmakers capture the beauty of the region in their films.

 

Junglee Pictures and Dharma Productions’ ‘Raazi’ starring Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal was the latest film who have shot majorly in the serene locales of Kashmir. While director Meghna Gulzar walks down the memory lane with father Gulzar reminiscing the time when she used to visit the sets of their parents’ films, Alia Bhatt too talks about how she loved being disconnected with the digital world and getting lost in the mountains. Speaking about the place, Meghna said, “It hurts when the locals apologetically ask you that ma’am you guys have come here, do you feel something wrong here? Are you feeling afraid? Are you feeling safe? Why should any citizen of their country ask this about their home? It is not right.” Even Alia finds Kashmir warm and beautiful. “The place where we faced issues was Patiala and not Kashmir. Because of the Godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim, there was a strike and that is why we faced some issues. Contrary to what people believe, Kashmir is very safe, it is still beautiful and it is still warm,” she adds.

 

Not many are aware of the fact that the scenes were passed off as Manali in the Ayan Mukerji directorial starring Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Aditya Roy Kapur, Kalki Koechlin and Madhuri Dixit-Nene in pivotal roles. The scenes of the group when they were exploring the mountains and a song sequence were actually shot in Pahalgam and Gulmarg in Kashmir.The makers of the film also got into trouble with the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at the time after he expressed his displeasure for attributing the scenes that were actually shot in Kashmir to Manali.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Haider’ starring Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor  and a Bollywood adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet was entirely set in Kashmir. The film was shot at Pahalgam, Kehribal area in Anantnag, Mattan, Aishan Sahab Zaina Kadal bridge in old Srinagar, Nishat Bagh, Dal Lake, Qazigund, Martand Sun Temple, Naseem Bagh, Harzatbal and Sonmarg. ‘Haider’ depicts the complicated familial ties along with equally complicated relation between India and Kashmir. Since the story was fully set in Kashmir, the soundscape, language and the landscape has a typical Kashmiri flavour to it.

 

Like her film Raazi, her film Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Highway’ starring Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda in the lead became a turning point for the young actress in her film career as she was hailed by both the audience and the critics for her exemplary performance. The film was shot at the picturesque Aru Valley.

The Article 370 was very important as it allows the state a certain amount of autonomy – its own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. Foreign affairs, defense and communications remain the preserve of the central government. As a result, Jammu and Kashmir could make its own rules relating to permanent residency, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It could also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there. The constitutional provision has underpinned India’s often fraught relationship with Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority region to join India at partition.

 

Sriram Raghavan who has directed master pieces like Ek Haseena Thi, Badlapur, Andhadhun etc is ecstatic with the news of the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir. “I am really glad. Believe it or not, I have not ever had a chance to visit Kashmir though I have heard a lot about the beauty of the valley. Now if I get a suitable film which I can shoot in Kashmir, I will certainly make plans to go there with the unit and shoot a film there in Kashmir now that the Article 370 has been scrapped.”

The abrogation of the Article has had a ripple effect on the shooting schedules. In fact, several top actors including Sanjay Dutt, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra were slated to shoot in Kashmir for upcoming projects over the next few months, but the repeal of Article 370 has put Bollywood’s plans to shoot in Kashmir on hold for now.

Sidharth Malhotra was supposed to shoot for Captain Vikram Batra’s biopic Shershaah in the Valley. Directed by Vishnu Varadhan from a story written by Sandeep Srivastava, the movie is being backed by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. The latest news is that the shooting schedule has been pushed, with no new date given yet.

Sadak 2 makers had plans to shoot an important segment of the film with Sanjay, Alia and Makarand Deshpande, who essays the role of a god man in the movie. The film marks the return of Mahesh Bhatt as director, and the filmmaker had planned to shoot sequences pertaining to the protagonists reaching the godman’s ashram. The shooting is also on hold for now.

Line producer Md. Abdullah of Hami Asto Productions, who arranges shoots in the Jammu and Kashmir regions, says that two to three Bollywood films and one big Telugu movie were slated to arrive over the next few months for shooting.”There were some big projects in the pipeline – two to three Bollywood films and one Telugu movie. Now, we can’t say if that will happen because of the disturbed environment. Maybe they will push the schedule or maybe they will go to a different location.”

Anupam Kher, who belongs to Kashmir and has moist eyes when he starts speaking about Kashmir, says, “I have woken up in NY to the best news of my life about Kashmir. Congratulations India. Kashmir Solution has begun.”   Calling it a “historical day” and an issue an issue that was long pending, Jammu-born actor Mohit Raina said the move will only help create education and employment for the people in the Valley.”This movement will only get Kashmir in the forefront for all the right reasons. The investors will create numerous job opportunities for the common man which will in turn boost economy of the state and the youth will not fall prey to people with malicious intentions which will indirectly reduce violence in the Valley,” Mohit Raina says. Raveena Tandon says she wishes for a “peaceful growth” for Kashmir and Kashmiris.

Even South Indian producers have started shooting for their films in Kashmir now. “We just wrapped up shoot of the Telugu film Venky Mama, starring Venkatesh. They shot in Pahalgam and Sonmarg. The month-long shot was wrapped up in June. One big Bollywood film was supposed to start shooting in August-end. They all are stuck now. Now with the Abrogation of Article 370, Inshallah, things will get settled soon. If that doesn’t happen, it will be a big problem for us because this is our ‘rozi-roti’,” adds the line producer, who has worked on John Abraham’s Romeo Akbar Walter, Abhishek Bachchan’s Manmarziyaan and Arjun Rampal’s web series The Final Call in the past and is but naturally worried about what the future holds for local line producers like him.

“The production houses might have to bear additional expenses owing to the shuffling of schedules, although the amounts will probably not be exorbitant. There is some unrest and confusion going on in Jammu and Kashmir. The government has taken measures. So, all the planned shoots in the region will be delayed for a while. It will not have much negative impact in terms of cost escalation, because productions of these films were yet to start,” says film and trade expert Girish Johar Johar adds, “ “Cost would have been a problem had they started shooting in Kashmir, and were forced to come back. Now, there will be a nominal increase in the cost.”

Many Kashmiris believe that the BJP ultimately wants to change the demographic character of the Muslim-majority region by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land there. Although Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement in parliament did come as a surprise to most Indians, it would have taken the government some preparation to arrive at the decision. The move also fits in with the Prime Minister Modi’s desire to show that the BJP is tough on Kashmir, and Pakistan.

What’s changed on the ground? Kashmir will no longer have a separate constitution but will have to abide by the Indian constitution much like any other state.All Indian laws will be automatically applicable to Kashmiris, and people from outside the state will be able to buy property there. The government says this will bring development to the region.

The day is not far off when our producers will start hunting for locations and doing their recce’s for shooting in the picturesque Kashmir and we can go and cover the shootings by yelling Yahoo!

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Yahoo, Kashmir, Article 370

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