Aamir Bats For Good Ol’ Valley

Aamir Bats For Good Ol’ Valley

9 February 2012
The Telegraph (Kolkata)


Srinagar: Bollywood is gradually reviving its romance with Kashmir but Mr Perfectionist is craving for more. Actor Aamir Khan is in Kashmir after 13 years with a plea to filmmakers to return to the Valley like they did in the “good old times”. “I think more and more shooting of films should take place in Kashmir as was the case in the good old times. It will be great as it is so beautiful out here,” Aamir told reporters after a visit to the Dal Lake, recalling how his father and uncle used to visit Kashmir for shooting. The Valley drew a record 1.3 million tourists last year, nearly double the previous best during the pre-militancy days in 1989. The Jammu and Kashmir government is optimistic that the trend will continue and is hoping that visits by stars like Aamir will attract more tourists and film crew to the Valley. Aamir arrived here yesterday and visited the scenic Kangan village in Gandarbal and the Dal Lake during the two-day trip. Cruising down the Dal Lake in a shikara surrounded by several boats carrying policemen, Aamir waved to hundreds of fans who had turned up to see him. This is only the second time that Aamir has visited Kashmir in the last 20 years. In 1998, he had come to shoot Mann, also starring Manisha Koirala. Some parts of his blockbuster 3 Idiots were shot in Ladakh but Aamir did not visit the Valley then. Although Aamir said he was on a pleasure trip, people accompanying him said he was scouting for locations for his next film. The Valley was Bollywood’s favourite setting in the pre-militancy years. Several filmmakers have lined up in recent years to revive their bond with Kashmir. Director Imtiaz Ali shot Rockstar, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri, last year. Nazir Bakshi, the pioneer of Kashmir’s travel trade who had facilitated shooting for dozens of films, said some top producers were showing interest again. The first film, according to Bakshi, that turned Kashmir into a favourite retreat for filmmakers was Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat. “There was a time when the king of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan, would spend some months every year here,” he said. “Many hit films of actors like Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor and Joy Mukherjee were shot here,” he said. The outbreak of militancy forced the filmmakers to look at Switzerland and other locations. So, Kashmir spectacular’s surroundings disappeared from India’s big screen, and militancy emerged as the main subject for the filmmakers. Some films on militancy, such as Mani Ratnam’s Roja and Kunal Kohli’s Fanaa, were shot in places resembling Kashmir. The exceptions are Mission Kashmir, starring Hrithik Roshan and Sanjay Dutt, Pukaar featuring Anil Kapoor, and some others like Agnipankh, Yahaan and Mere Apne.