THE OPENING OF A MULTIPLEX IN KASHMIR : A LANDMARK TOWARDS NORMALCY
Dr. Adil Malik
Art and its appreciation – is a gift that humans embrace in various forms. Cinema has always been a way of expressing oneself for many people – a way of rekindling, making memories and revisiting them, having good times and so on. The picturesque valley of Kashmir has opened its first multiplex for public with regular shows from 30th September 2022 marking a historic moment for the enthusiastic film lovers of Kashmir.
The first multiplex in India was started in New Delhi in 1997, however the valley of Kashmir had been deprived of not only multiplexes for almost 25 years ,but even cinema halls for the last 3 decades. Late 80s and early 90s saw Kashmir captivated by militancy, shutting down all cinema halls, also some of them were even set on fire and eventually calling a ban on theaters. Films were considered “haram” or unislamic by the fundamentalists in the region. There were efforts in 1999 by the government Led by Farooq Abdullah to reopen the cinema halls, but went in vain as a violent attack took place in the course of the first show leading to 1 casualty and 12 people getting wounded. Many years later, when a ban on cinema halls was lifted by Saudi Arabia, there was an attempt to reopen theaters in the valley by BJP and PDP collation government. However, again this move of the government was criticized by some ill in the region.
The youth of Kashmir has not enjoyed the privilege of watching cinema. Since, the only way the people could enjoy movies was with pen drives, DVDs and internet, on small screen, the younger generation has never experienced how it feels to watch movies on big screen with popcorns and snacks during the interval. The pleasure and satisfaction of watching a movie in a cinema hall cannot be substituted by other alternative means. Since the youngsters in the valley have been the biggest sufferers because of the uncertainties and atrocities they have gone through in their lives, cinema would not only provide them relaxation but also reduce their stress levels. It was an irony that “the paradise on earth”, which had been the hot favouritelocation to shoot movies, was itself not able to showcase those movies. People had to travel 300km all the way to Jammu in order to watch a movie in the theatre. It is unbelievable that an entire generation in the region has grown up without ever watching their most liked stars on big screen. Along with providing entertainment, multiplexes would also become a source to organize employment and business opportunities for the local people. It is also expected to add on to the revival of Kashmir’s sluggish economy. The younger lot would be able to relish the same entertainment provided by cinema, which their peers in other parts of the country adore.
With the inauguration of 2 multiplexes in the Pulwama and Shopian districts of Kashmir and inauguration of more in near future Lieutenant Governor of J&k , Mr. Manoj Sinha is very hopeful for a new positive change to take place in the region. It is a very nostalgic and emotional moment for the owner of the multiplex, Mr. Dhar, since his family has shared a special bond with the theatre world, as it owned “Broadway”, one of the oldest cinema halls in Kashmir. This first ever multiplex of the valley has been designed by INOX and will comprise of 3 auditoriums which will flaunt the most advanced Dolby sound systems. It will have a capacity to accommodate 520 people and will also be equipped with provision of recliner seats in addition to other comfortable seating facilities. In addition to the modern touch given to the multiplex by INOX, papier-mache designs, wooden chips and Kashmiri khatamband ceiling given by the local artisans has made it a unique design among all existing cinema halls in the country.
With things getting back in place and normalcy returning, the new generation is hopeful to see a mesmerizing Kashmir which they have read and heard about. The filmmakers across the world are again getting encouraged to choose Kashmir as a preferred location to shoot their movies ever since the Kashmir World Film Festival started in 2015. The open-air floating theatre at Dal lake, which started in 2021 has also opend the world of theatre for the valley. And 2022 saw J&K governmentorganizing the first-ever national film festival in Srinagar in the month of June. Since, there has been an extraordinary relationship between Kashmir and movies for decades, this move to start with multiplex in the union territory would surely strengthen the bond further. Because Cinema and theatre are also means to inspire social and cultural reflection in addition to providing entertainment, its rekindling implies that a new wind of change has started blowing in valley, which will finally help in restoration of what Kashmir already possessed for decades but had lost due to militancy and terrorism.
Dr Adil Rasool Malik ; Author besides being a Doctor and is very active in positive perception management of various political and social issues. Author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org & twitter @drmalikadil