Kashmir Still Beacons Film Doyens: Mufti
11 April 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Bollywood's 2-day 'Mission Kashmir' may lead to another 'honeymoon' with the ever-fascinating Valley this summer and autumn. It is the hopeful indication on the conclusion of a first ever exploratory visit of a group of Bollywood doyens to Kashmir valley. The group of six top film producers returned to Mumbai this afternoon with fresh and unforgettable memories of captivating valley and its hospitality. And they left behind a brightening hope that 'they will come again' in large group for shooting that will unleash much needed impetus to economic activity for the people of the valley. The group of Bollywood bigwigs comprised Yash Chopra of Silsila and Dil to Pagal hai fame, Ramesh Sippy of Sholay fame, Vidhu Vinod Chopra of Mission Kashmir fame, Ashok Takharia of Mann fame, Mammohan Shetty of Azgar fame and Ramesh Toorani of 'Tips' company. At a wrap up meeting specially arranged at world famous sanctuary, known for its exclusiveness, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today extended a warm invitation to the Bollywood to put Kashmir's breathtaking scenic locations on their shooting plans. Mufti Sayeed offered every support to the film industry in facilitating their shooting in safe environs. While Mufti Sayeed has every reason to be happy at the successful culmination of his 3-month sustained effort to bring the Bollywood to Kashmir, even on exploratory mission as State Government guests, the visiting celebrities too were excited to be back on the paradise on earth. For Vidhu, it was a homecoming as his roots are in Kashmir but it was nostalgic for Yash Chopra who fondly remembers refreshing locations of his blockbusters. Ramesh Toorani, who was on his maiden visit, could not help saying that 'it is indeed paradise on earth'. Yash Chopra was so thrilled at his one night stay at Gulmarg that he compared it with Switzerland, saying that he would be too happy to use Kashmir's fascinating locations for any of his films. Similar were the feelings of others. They did not find Kashmir of their perception mostly based on media reportage of militancy incidents. While there is no denying that militancy is there but it does not mean that life has come to standstill. They could not turn Nelson's eye towards the fast changing scenario including people's mindset who are longing for peace. It is the beginning and hopefully others would follow, it was the impression, going by the happy experience of their brief but eye-opening visit. They heard the encouraging response of the present Bollywood team located at Srinagar for the last one month shooting for Agni Pankh. In fact, the team has itself become a motivating factor for others. The Chief Minister, who had hosted a dinner for the visiting Bollywood celebrities last night at Royal Springs Golf Course, interacted with them urging frequently to now come and bring more producers to Kashmir for shooting. The leading artists of agni pankh along with their producer and director were also present. The procedure for clearance of shooting schedule has been simplified. The teams would be given full security, they were reassured. Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Mangat Ram Sharma, Tourism and Housing Minister Mr. Ghulam Hassan Mir, Minister of State for Industries Mr. Raman Mattoo, Ms Mehbooba Mufti and Mr. Hamid Tariq Qara, legislators, Chairman J&K Bank Mr. M. Y. Khan and senor officers were also present. Fresh with the enchanting white canvass of Gulmarg, their own assessment of the situation and above all Government's sincere commitment of co- operation, a hope has generated that the Bollywood will rediscover Kashmir for their films and contribute towards restoration of peace and economic activity. The fact remains that Kashmir still beacons Bollywood. What is needed is persuasion and motivation and the Government is ready to do it.