Wooing Bollywood part of J&K’s fight against wrong perceptions


The Jammu and Kashmir government is going to rope in the Bollywood film industry to revive Kashmir as an “ideal place for film shooting so as to give a fillip to the tourism sector in the state and fight against perception mismanagement”.

“We have decided to have single window clearance system wherein filmmakers can provide us details of locations they want to shoot at.

“We will process that within seven days. Our work is to facilitate such things here”, Shailendra Kumar, commissioner tourism, said at a press conference on Saturday that was also attended by the crew of forthcoming movie “Welcome 2 Karachi”.

The film crew is in Kashmir as part of a three-day promotional tour of the movie, which is a satirical comedy.

The film’s producer Vashu Bhagnani said: “We are happy to come to Kashmir for the film promotion. It feels good to start the promotion from such a beautiful place as Kashmir.

“Hopefully next year we will shoot our new movie in Kashmir”.

Shot in different parts of the United Kingdom like Wales, Birmingham and Bradford, the movie has actor Arshad Warsi and Jackky Bhagnani in lead roles.

“The film is about two innocent and stupid guys who start their journey from Gujarat coast on a boat and reach Karachi, Pakistan, without any travel documents. This is where humour begins in the movie.

“Hope the story works and the film does good business”, Jackky said.

It is the actor’s first visit to Kashmir.

“Kashmir is 10 times more beautiful than I had heard. It is just a beginning, more films should be promoted here. Kashmir should not only be the first choice for film shoot only for Bollywood but even for Hollywood, because it is a beautiful place”, he said.

Actress Lauren Gottlieb, who plays the role of an intelligence officer in the movie, said: “People here are lovable, warm and affectionate. It is a great feeling to be here”.

This is the first film promotional tour in Kashmir after Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed visited Mumbai to woo the film industry back to the state.

“There are so many negative tendencies here and this is important for us to send a positive message outside Jammu and Kashmir,” Shailendra Kumar said.

Asked about the government’s purpose in inviting Bollywood personalities to promote their movies in Kashmir when there are no cinema theatres open here, he said: “We are looking at these things from a larger perspective.

“The last two decades of turmoil in the state have hit the infrastructure here. Film shoots and events like this help us in fighting a perception management and conveys Kashmir is heading back to its lost glory”, he added.

“Nearly 12-13 lakh tourists come here every year, this is besides people coming for Amarnath yatra. Our target for coming years is to have 50 lakh tourists.

“It is wrong that tourism helps only a small percentage of people. A tourist comes here, stays in a hotel, goes around, buys things from the market, hires transport. It propels our economy”, Shailendra Kumar said when asked how many Kashmiris are associated with the tourism sector.

Vashu Bhagnani said the film fraternity will work with the Kashmir government to reopen theatres here, so that more films are shot here and the locals work in such films.

“We want to engage with the youth of Kashmir”.

The itinerary of the film crew’s tour of the valley includes shikara rides on the Dal lake, a dunga dinner and a run and meet with school children in the old city of Srinagar on Sunday morning.

The film is slated for a May 28 release.

Inputs by IANS