J&K’s Film Policy to be out in 10 days; huge incentives for theatres, studios

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Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU: For the for time the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has drafted a policy for revival and promotion of the film and entertainment industry in the Union Territory which, according to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, would be unveiled in the next ten days.
Addressing a two-day conference on ‘Tapping the Tourism Potential of Kashmir-Another Day in Paradise’ at Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) on the banks of the famous Dal Lake here, through virtual mode, the Lieutenant Governor said that his government had almost finalised the new film policy after thorough deliberations with the stakeholders.
“The policy will be out within ten days from now. It entails a road map on how we can bring back the golden era of 70’s and 80’s on the silver screen. We have been reading and hearing that Kashmir used to be the favourite Bollywood destination of filmmakers in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. We as a team will work to bring back the same culture”, Sinha told a gathering which included over 50 golfers of the national repute drawn from different parts of the country.
The audiences at SKICC were also eagerly waiting for the former Indian cricket captain and a golf enthusiast Kapil Dev, who, according to the officials of the Directorate of Tourism, would be flying into the valley by his private helicopter from Chandigarh.
Sinha said that the first ever film policy had been framed after extensive consultations with various important stakeholders within J&K and other parts of the country. “A road map will be followed on how to bring back the (pre-1990) golden era and film culture in Kashmir,” he asserted.
Sinha said that serious efforts were underway to revive tourism in Kashmir as a number of new tourist destinations were being explored. “We are focusing on putting in place a better tourism infrastructure at the new tourist places so that tourists can enjoy and explore new places hassle free. For this, we have also invited private players”, he said. He said despite the Coronavirus pandemic, Kashmir had received the highest number of domestic tourists as compared to the rest of the states since December 2020. “This of course helped to revive the tourism in Kashmir,” he said.
Referring to the current traffic of nearly 36 flights at the Srinagar airport, Sinha said a night flight was now for the first time operational directly between Srinagar and Bengaluru. He said tourists were coming to Kashmir not only to enjoy the scenic beauty and explore the places but also to connect with the people of the Valley.
Officials associated with the formulation of the UT’s first Film Policy revealed to India Initiative that it would envisage huge incentives for revival of the film, hospitality and entertainment industry in Jammu and Kashmir. “We are planning establishment of high-tech infrastructure including a Film City, Bollywood type indoor shooting and post-production studios and labs, besides some theatres on the pattern of multiplexes at shopping malls in Jammu, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and other places”, said a senior official.
All cinema theatres and other businesses related to the entertainment industry were shut down by separatists and militants in 1989. That also spelled an end for shooting of films in Kashmir where scores of Indian films used to be shot every year for about 50 years. In the post-1990 era, three cinema theatres, namely Broadway, Neelum and Regal, were restored for screening of the Bollywood films during Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference government in 1996-2002. However, all the three were again closed down in the wake of a grenade attack at Regal and an encounter at Neelum.
Around 20 Indian films, including Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Mission Kashmir and Shikara and Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider have been extensively shot in Kashmir but always under tight security. A large number of the Bollywood and even South Indian producers and directors have shown interest in shooting their new films in the valley after abrogation of Article 370 and conversion of the erstwhile State into a Union Territory in August 2019.
The UT Government has now formulated a comprehensive Industrial Infrastructure Development Policy which also provides for huge subsidies and other incentives including full reimbursement of GST for the first 10 years. Officials say that the Film Police would specially focus on revival of the film and entertainment industry in Jammu and Kashmir. Significantly, two fashion shows have been for the first time held at SKICC and Tagore Hall in Srinagar in the last 14 days with the participation of local event managers and over a dozen female model participants.