Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has asked the country’s main film industry for help in removing the fear in people’s minds about visiting the Kashmir Valley.
Overall violence in Kashmir, where an insurgency raged for more than two decades, has been on a decline in recent years and a few film-makers have already shot many films in the Valley ever since.
But the chief minister told film-makers and actors in Mumbai that the negative perception about travelling to Kashmir was still “one of the most difficult challenges” confronting him.
Mufti promised the Bollywood a hassle-free business environment to shoot in the Valley, known for its picturesque locales, and sought to remind it that Kashmir was “no less than their second home”.
“Self-praise is no recommendation. (But) Kashmir has been a centre of attraction for Bollywood film-makers, who have been amazed by its incomparable beauty,” the chief minister told the glitterati at the concluding function of the 17th MAMI (Mumbai academy of moving images) Film Festival in Mumbai on Thursday evening.
Mufti promised a single-window clearance system to film crews and said he will also focus on back-end linkages like procurement of high-tech equipment and logistics to make it easier for big-banner production houses.
Top Bollywood personalities, including Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan, Anupama Chopra, Ritesh Deshmukh and Nandita Das were present in the audience.
Mufti, who holds the tourism portfolio, also had a personal interaction with Salman Khan, who pledged to continue his tryst with Kashmir.
Khan is among prominent Bollywood personalities to have shot films in the Valley recently since the film industry resumed its affair with Kashmir as militant violence dipped since 2004.
“I extend my gratitude to Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan for having chosen the Valley for shooting their films in the recent past,” he said, while recalling the ’60s when films like Kashmir Ki Kali were entirely shot in Kashmir.
Mufti also interacted with a group of 12 Kashmiri students from MERC (Media Education Research Centre) of the Kashmir University, who had been specially invited by noted film-maker Vidhu Vinod Chopra to learn creative cinema.