The Rockstar concert in Mumbai that marked Ranbir Kapoor’s stage debut and had music maestro AR Rahman promoting a film through a live gig for the first time in almost two decades, was a rocking hit. But the concert planned in Kashmir is yet to happen.
“Even though we were really excited about it, we got busy with the post-production and the release of Rockstar and couldn’t follow up with the authorities on permissions and other technicalities,” sighs director Imtiaz Ali, who is still hoping that it will happen soon.
“Even if it doesn’t, Ranbir and I hope to go back to the Valley to just thank the locals for the welcome and warmth we received.” Shrugging off rumours about security problems, Imtiaz insists that it was one of the “safest and smoothest shoots” he has helmed in his career spanning five films.
He points out that he had taken with him a unit of 150 non-Kashmiris, who were roaming the streets of Srinagar and other locations up in the hills without a single cop in attendance.
“Everyone knew that Ranbir was shooting there, and even Rahman sir (composer AR Rahman) was present. I had convinced Rahman sir to join us and he had even uploaded a picture taken in Kashmir on Twitter during his stay. Yet, there was no mob frenzy. It was all peaceful and everyone was wonderfully cooperative,” raves the filmmaker.
Imtiaz has gone back to Kashmir a few times since he shot Rockstar. And now, he wants to tell every producer and director on the fringes of a new project that can be set in the state, to plan a schedule there without any apprehensions.
“The authorities there, particularly the police department, were extremely helpful and I’m sure they’d extend the same support to others. I’ve also interacted with some of the locals, including some from the tourism department, and they are keen that Bollywood return to Gulmarg, Sonmarg and the Dal Lake where so many of our chartbusters including Shammi Kapoor’s Kashmir Ki Kali Hoon Main… (Junglee, 1961) and Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra… (Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964) were filmed,” says Imtiaz.
Shammi Kapoor was like a brand ambassador for Kashmir back in the swinging ’60s and it seems only appropriate that Rockstar, the last film he faced the camera for before his demise on August 14, was shot there. Muses Imtiaz, “Maybe his grand-nephew, Ranbir, can now take on the mantle and convince people to return to the paradise on earth again.”