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Revival of entertainment industry now a major focus in J&K

Kashmirs entertainment-deprived population would have a sigh of relief as and when Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinhas government unfolds the J&K Film Policy-2021 anytime in the current month. Parallel to attracting producers and directors from across the country for shooting their films in the valley, it envisages revival of the entertainment industry at a large scale.

LG Sinha presided over a high level meeting in Jammu on Wednesday to review the proposed J&K Film Policy-2021. Most of the senior bureaucrats, including Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, Financial Secretaries and Principal Secretaries, participated in the meeting.

“J&K Film Policy will be among the best in the country and all the stakeholders would be taken on board while finalizing it,” Sinha asserted while urging the bureaucracy to seek the views of all the stakeholders.

During the meeting, point wise discussions were held on measures needed to be incorporated to attract and facilitate the film-makers coming to the UT, besides maximizing the potential of promising local film sector and talents for transforming J&K into the most preferred film destination. Sinha asked the officers to establish liaison with the film producers, directors and others associated with the film industry in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram and Kolkata and seek their views.

According to the sources present in the meeting, Sinha emphasized streamlining the Single Window Clearance & Facilitation System and bringing renowned filmmakers from across the country and abroad for exploring the unexplored scenic locales available in abundance in Jammu and Kashmir.

Director Information and Public Relations, Rahul Pandey gave a detailed presentation on advantages of Jammu and Kashmir for the Indian film Industry, besides administrative structure and the way forward for the film sector in J&K.

Sources revealed to India Narrative that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in coordination with the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Union Ministry of Culture, Union Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir was working on a comprehensive plan not only to resume shooting of Bollywood films but also to revive the defunct entertainment industry in a big way.

While hundreds of thousands of the Kashmiris were directly and indirectly beneficiaries of the Indian film shooting in the valley before the outbreak of militancy in 1989, as many as 17 theatres providing employment to hundreds of people had their profitable businesses in the entertainment industry. All these theatres, including audio and video cassette kiosks, beauty parlours and salons, wine shops were permanently shuttered due to fear of the gun.

Dukhtaran-e-Millat chairperson Asiya Andrabi and an urban guerrilla ‘Air Marshal’ Noor Khan, with Allah Tigers and Hizbullah at their back, forced closure of all the 17 cinema theatres in Srinagar, Baramulla, Sopore and Anantnag towns on 31 December 1989.

In the last 30 years, around 20 Indian films have been shot in the Valley under heavy security arrangements. However the culture of filmmaking could not be revived in the absence of a film policy. Three of the theatres—Broadway, Neelam and Regal—were opened during Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference government in 1996-2002. But all the three were shut down again permanently as the terrorists carried out a grenade attack on the cinegoers at Regal and an encounter took place between the militants and security forces at Neelam.

The owners of all these cinema theatres are now running other businesses from some of the premises even as at least three theatres—including the once iconic Palladium Cinema at Lal Chowk in Srinagar— are decaying with no business.

Militants and their sympathisers have also forced closure of at least two music bands, including the one exclusively run by females, in the last 15 years.

Nevertheless after abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, a number of rappers and other singers have turned active on social media. Over a dozen of Kashmiri artists and actors, including the famous Bollywood celebrity Hina Khan, are flourishing in the Indian film and entertainment industry.

While the Government of India has placed establishment of film studios and related facilities and services in Kashmir on top priority in the recently announced Rs 28,400 crore industrial scheme, the UT Government has also incorporated the same services and infrastructure in its new Industrial Police likely to be released later this month. Officials insist that a slew of the never-before incentives, including lease of land on low premium, subsidies, bank loans and full reimbursement of GST for the first 10 years, would be the key features of the new industrial policy. Daijiworld


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