Yash Raj Films is attempting to go where no producer has since 1989, at least. The film production company has been working towards taking its latest offering 'Dhoom 3' to Srinagar. The cultural landscape in the Kashmir Valley has been pitifully bleak, especially since cinema houses were closed down 24 years ago, at the beginning of armed insurgency.
While extremists burned many of the theatres to ashes, others were shut down. Even as some of them limped back to life subsequently, the population has remained wary of them, lending the reopened cinemas an air of gloom and desolation.
But true to its trademark style of shirking grim reality and making things larger than life, YRF is attempting to do the impossible. Representatives, led by Aditya Chopra, have been in talks with the concerned authorities and the J&K government to get them to release their next film, Dhoom 3 in a theatre at the capital.
The YRF officials have already made three trips to Srinagar, to try and make the mission a success. With the theatres gone, people in the city have had to resort to pirated CDs and DVDs at home for Hindi movies, which they watch on TV. Aditya Chopra is hoping to break this pattern and pave the way for other film screenings, and lift some of the catatonia that has descended upon the silent valley. YRF’s local distributor has been constantly liaising with the theatre owners.
Interestingly, even as the government and the local authorities have promised security for the release of the film, theatre owners are still anxious about the re-opening, fearing a backlash of some kind. If YRF succeeds in getting at least one theatre to open and screening even a single show, it will be a pathbreaking move.
Just a while back, filmmakers resumed shooting in the valley. Parts of films like Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani, Student of the Year, Highway have been shot in Kashmir. Just last month, however, Vishal Bhardwaj faced a bit of a problem when he was forced to pack up the shoot of his film Haider at the university campus at Hazratbal. Students had disrupted the shooting of a terrorist attack.
The YRF spokesperson confirmed the development, saying, “Yes, we have been in touch with the local authorities in Kashmir to reopen a theatre. We are hopeful that it will happen.” It is also said that the local distributor of YRF films, Mr Puri, has assured the theatre owner that he need not pay them any money for the screening, as long as he musters enough courage to do it.
Cinema houses were closed down in Kashmir in 1989, since the beginning of armed insurgency. There were approximately 18 cinema houses the prominent ones being Broadway, Palladium, Neelam, Naaz and Regal. However, in 1999, Broadway, Neelam, Regal and a few others reopened.