Cinema and its impact on Kashmir tourism  

Cinema and its impact on Kashmir tourism   

Globalization has intertwined businesses in such a way that pandemic has shown the fragility in the industries and its harsh impact from the top MNCs to a daily wage worker in the fields. Last two years have seen industries going bankrupt, tourism getting affected and the movie halls being closed down. In the entertainment arena, OTT platforms acted like a ventilator during these hard times. The present year is a sigh of relief with the outreach of vaccination and a steep decline in number of cases, last 2-3 months have given a breather for filmmakers with audience going back to the movie halls. Cinema act as a panorama for exchange of cultural ideas, beauties and in particular can influence or shape existing social hierarchies, It also act as a perfect bulletin for ideas to spread. Kashmir has always remained an intriguing subject for Bollywood, from the early sixties release of Kashmir ki kali (1964) basking the beauty of the valley to the latest one The Kashmir files (2022) creating furore over a political matter. Every filmmaker has tried to put on the canvas the different theories and notions of beauty and turmoil about this paradise state.

Be it Firdaus, mighty Mughal kingpin Jehnagir and or the many mystic Sufi saints, the picturesque and enchanting beauty of the valley has inspired all of them. It carried the same image back for some early movie makers with the era post 1960s saw a number of Bollywood movies being released on the charming Kashmiri backdrop with quaint wooden bridges, apple orchards, bustling bazars on Dal, famous sufi shrines and the evergreen summer meadows. The first family of Bollywood, Kapoor,s took the baton to popularise and monetize the state beauty and bring it out for larger audience with the ever energetic Shammi Kapoor playing the role of a young charismatic boy in Kashmir ki kali (1964) to his younger brother Shashi Kapoor playing the character of Raja, a shikara rider in Jab Jab phool Khile (1965). The snow capped mountains not only provided a beautiful landscape for these movies but also proved vital in popularizing Kashmir as a popular shooting location. Early eighties saw the entry of international filmmakers appreciating the incredible beauty of the state with two Hollywood movies being shot here, Bill Murrays The Razor Edge(1984) and the adventure biopic of Austrian mountaineer Hermann Buhl The Climb(1986).To give the readers an impression of how movies can impact popularity of a particular place, a perfect example can be cited through famous hit of Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh starrer Betaab (1983) , the place where it was shot was earlier known as Hagan valley. The popularity of the movie was such that it was renamed as Betaab Valley thereafter and is on every travellers must visit list on the Kashmir trip.

It’s hard to forget the movie Aap ki kasam (1974), and the evergreen song Jai Jai Shiv Shankar, where the audience get drowned in the beauty of Gulmarg valley and can get the views of beautiful Apharwat peaks on the backdrop. The temple still stands there till date, and the local guides have one more flavour for their many stories to the tourists. When the audience leave the cinema halls, they carry with them a certain perception and visualization about the subject. The movies made on the country, state or a particular region act as a free tourism promotion to attract travellers and backpackers from round the globe, thus making local handicraft and artisan industries to bloom. The impact and outreach of the movies are unparalleled. Legendary Filmmaker Yash Chopra shot many of his movies in Switzerland and was honoured by the Swiss govt, when they placed a 250 Kg bronze statue of Chopra at Congress Centre in Interlaken, one of the most popular tourist destinations. Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na milegi Dobara(2011) acted as a travel brochure for Spain and attributes to the rise of over 65 percent tourist influx in the country. Moreover, it has been included as a case study for a course in marketing management over there. Kashmir has a lot of potential in terms of tourism, the Kashmiris being known as the great hosts round the world with stories of Kashmiriyat being famous among the travellers. The tall alpine tress, the old Dal lake, the crystal clear serpentine rivers along with the grand high chinar trees creates the scenery that leaves travellers spellbound. It’s high time when the state government along with the local stakeholders should utilise the potential of big screen and invite cinematographers, filmmakers to shoot and promote the beauty of this valley state. A film festival or conclave can be the great foundation for the same.

Ideas, Opinions and Views expressed in articles are Writer’s own and may not be in accord with those of SUBAH KASHMIR

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