Kashmir Sells Paradise To Tollywood & Co

Kashmir Sells Paradise To Tollywood & Co

21 February 2014
DNA
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan

Srinagar: Unfazed by separatists' Bollywood bashing, the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu & Kashmir is reaching out to film industries in the country's southern states to get them to shoot their movies in the Kashmir Valley. The Omar government's bait to the film industries of Hyderabad (Tollywood), Tamil Nadu (Kollywood), Karnataka (Sandalwood) and Kerala (Mollywood) comes days after Hurriyat hawks, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, accused Bollywood filmmakers of stereotyping Kashmiris and projecting a negative image of the restive valley. The state's 'Look South' policy aims to push tourism beyond Bollywood, which has been increasingly shooting movies in the state. More than five Bollywood films including Ranbir Kapoor's Rockstar and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, Shah Rukh Khan's Jab Tak Hain Jaan, Saif Ali Khan-starrer Phantom and Vishal Bhardwaj's Haider have been shot in Kashmir in recent years. The state's tourism department contends that it is time now to tap the reach of south Indian language films as well. 'The South film industries have a great reach not only in India but even overseas,' said a tourism planner on condition of anonymity. 'If Kashmir features in their films, it will send a positive message and that could translate into the increase in tourist traffic.' Nearly 98 per cent of total arrivals in Kashmir comprise domestic tourists from Gujarat, Mumbai, Kolkata and Tamil Nadu with foreign tourists compromising just two per cent of all tourist arrivals. Tourism planners feel relatively lower costs, breathtaking beauty and hassle-free permits will be big attractions for southern filmmakers to shoot their movies in the Kashmir valley. Tourism honchos are therefore touring different southern states to showcase Kashmir to filmmakers as an alternative destination to foreign locations in a bid to boost tourism. 'We had an excellent meeting with producers and directors of the Tamil film industry in Chennai. They have agreed to come to Kashmir. Two filmmakers will come here soon for a survey,' Talat Parvez, director, Tourism Kashmir, told dna. 'We are also going to meet filmmakers in Hyderabad, and later reach out to those Bengali and Assamese filmmakers on Kolkata.' Kashmir, was once a favourite destination for film shoots, became a no-go zone for Bollywood after the onset of militancy in 1990.