As Kashmir’s first multiplex nears completion, films may hit screen from next year
Srinagar deputy commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said once the building and project is complete, licences will be issued to other people who wish to open cinemas or multiplexes.Updated: Jun 27, 2020, 22:16 IST
If all goes well, Kashmir will be getting its first multiplex next year.
Ever since militancy broke out in Kashmir in the early 1990s, people lost all chances of experiencing outdoor cinema as movie theatres in the valley were forced to shut down.
Decades later, a Kashmiri Pandit business family from Srinagar has almost completed the construction of a multiplex at Shivpora near Badami Bagh Cantt.
“The building is complete. We had got permission from the cantonment board to establish a commercial complex. The then governor, Satya Pal Malik, wanted it to be a cinema and we said alright. The cinema will be one of the components besides commercial places and food court. It will take time till March-April next year,” said Vijay Dhar, who is also the owner of Delhi Public School, Srinagar.
His two sons Vikas and Vishal had applied for the permission for Kashmir’s first multiplex.
“We know it’s not easy to setup the multiplex and hope the government will remove all the impediments which are required for this project. We are almost done with the multiplex, it needs finishing touches and people can come and the watch films once it opens next year,” Vikas said adding that he came to know that some people in the Badami Bagh Cantt board had raised some objections.
“I hope everything will be sorted out by the time it gets ready,” said Vikas, who currently shuttles between Delhi, Jammu and Srinagar. “Once complete, I will be permanently stationed here and the latest movies will be released and we would love to see families coming to watch them.”
Vijay said since the pandemic is ongoing, we are waiting for the new rules on social distancing and seating arrangements. “My purpose for this complex is to provide the youth with the same recreational facilities as they get in the rest of the country. Besides, this initiative will also generate employment. Will people come or not, I will not go into that? If they don’t want to come we can’t force them.”
Officials said the Srinagar municipal Corporation has also granted permission to the owner of the single-screen theatre, Naaz Cinema, to renovate the building into a multiplex. Many former theatres and cinemas have been converted into shopping complexes, nursing homes and some have been occupied by the paramilitary forces.
Srinagar deputy commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said once the building and project is complete, licences will be issued to other people who wish to open cinemas or multiplexes.
“As of now, building permissions have been given for repairs of old cinema complexes. M/S Taksal Hospitality Pvt Ltd, owned by Dhars, has applied for permission for the multiplex and we have told them once the building is complete the licence will be granted to them after checking safety, security and other measures,” he said.
After the closure of movie theatres in the militancy-ridden valley, the first attempt to open cinema halls was made in 1999, when movie theatres – Neelam, Regal and Broadway – opened in Srinagar. However, after militants lobbed a grenade on Regal Cinema, which also led to the death of one person, it closed down.