Aiyaary, Raazi, Gul Makai: Kashmir highlights Bollywood’s 2018 calendar
Just like last year, Bollywood’s schedule for 2018 is choc-a-block with films shot in Kashmir, including Neeraj Pandey’s upcoming military thriller, Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal-starrer Raazi, and Malala Yousafzai’s Bollywood biopic, starring Divya Dutta and Reem Shaikh.bollywood Updated: Feb 10, 2018 16:33 IST
Kashmir and Bollywood have always shared a special relationship, with films such as Junglee (1961), Arzoo (1965), Bobby (1973), Roti (1974), Kabhie Kabhie (1976), and more recently, Rockstar (2011), Student of the Year (2012), Highway (2014), Haider (2014), and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) having been filmed there. This year, too, will see films with Kashmir as the backdrop, as more and more filmmakers flock to the scenic state for recce and shoots.
A number of films have been shot in the state over the past year alone, including Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary (starring Sidharth Malhotra, Manoj Bajpayee, and Rakul Preet Singh), Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi (with Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal in the lead), to Divya Dutta-starrer Gul Makai (based on the young Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai), to Imtiaz Ali’s brother Sajid Ali’s Laila Majnu, with newcomers Avinash Tiwary and Deepthi.
Talking about the Kashmir schedule of Aiyaary, actor Sidharth Malhotra says, “We have shot widely in Kashmir, and I haven’t witnessed anything negative, or any sense of stress. They are very resilient there. I am very impressed with the armed forces. They understand that they need to send a positive message to the people by allowing a film to be shot there.” Actor Reem Shaikh, who will essay the role of Malala in Gul Makai, was quoted as saying, “It is a peaceful place. There is no violence here. If you are planning a holiday, you must visit Kashmir.”
And, indeed, neither the authorities, nor Bollywood is backing out of shooting films in the troubled state. Filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra plans to shoot his upcoming film based on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandit community, in the state. Bollywood playback singer Nakash Aziz and actor Shiv Pandit will be shooting for a love track at Gulmarg, a popular tourist destination. Actor Ranjha Vikram Singh, too, has been shooting for a film at the hill station, Sonamarg.
Filmmaker Kabir Khan, who has previously shot in Kashmir for films such as Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Phantom (2015), says he enjoyed shooting in the valley. “It was a wonderful experience shooting. We received an overwhelming support from locals, the tourism industry, security forces, and hotel people,” he says. “People were very cooperative. They didn’t create any disruption during the shoot. We were given the permission to shoot at all those locations where we wanted to. In the future, if my script demands for me to shoot there, I will go there without any hesitation,” he adds.
Actor and director Imran Khan, who shot his 2017 film Sargoshiyan in the valley cannot stop raving about the experience, “Kashmir is really a beautiful place to shoot. The place has always welcomed Bollywood to shoot. I shot in 2016, and enjoyed it. The people, the tourism department were very helpful and cooperative, and made the shoot an easy job.”
And the man responsible for most of it — line producer for Bollywood films in Kashmir, Khawar Jamsheed, says, “We help them get quick permissions, secure lodging, locations, and equipment. We try to give the best facilities available to us. Even the charges for shooting are very low.”
“For the last one decade, Bollywood has again started making inroads into the valley, which is really a positive sign. It will definitely provide an impetus to the Kashmir tourism sector,” notes Jamsheed.