Filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra has written an open letter to the Jammu and Kashmir government to reopen theatres in the valley, which were closed in 1990 following the outbreak of militancy.
Recalling his childhood days spent in Kashmir, Chopra said that going to cinema was a "way into the world that existed outside of my house".
"When I was young, Broadway Cinema was my temple. That's where I went to study cinema. I was very poor, I had no money.
The owner, Vijay Dhar would give me a free pass. That little white slip of paper which said 'admit one' was like a pass to heaven for me. I can't imagine that today this gateway to heaven no longer exists," Chopra said in the letter.
"Movies were not just entertainment. They were a new life, a way into the world that existed outside of my house at 35A Wazir Bagh, Srinagar.
"Recently 900 prints of my film '3 Idiots' have released in China in Mandarin language - a first for a Hindi film. It all started in Broadway, Regal cinema and Palladium in Lal Chowk. Look how far a Kashmiri has come. And this would have never happened without those cinema halls. How can you deny the same opportunity to thousands of young Kashmiris? They don't have a window into the world. They have few jobs and little escape," he said.
The filmmaker, known for making movies like "Munnabhai MBBS" series, says if the cinema halls are reopened in the state, it will provide people a world of new possibilities.
"Cinema is not the answer to a problem as fraught as Kashmir. But it can and will provide a catharsis of emotions for people who have lived in hell for two decades now. And it will do more - going to a cinema is about more than just seeing a movie. You go with your family to break bread, you go to see friends, you go to be part of a thriving community," he said.
"Instead of sitting at home in the dark night, you escape into a world of possibilities. And maybe some Kashmiris like me, through that cinema, will find their own destiny, which is why we must build theatres in Kashmir," he added.
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