Kashmir wooing Bollywood back!


By Hindustan Times

Mumbai, June 21 -- With two movies, Lamhaa and Saat Khoon Maaf being shot in its picturesque locales, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is finally back in Bollywood. Until the late 1980s, Kashmir had been one of the most sought-after destinations for film shoots, but was deserted after it was hit by insurgency in 1989.

Mission Kashmir in 2000 renewed interest in the Valley, followed by Yahaan (2005), Shaurya (2008), Tahaan (2008), Sikander (2009) and Victory (2009).

Back to the future

Action thriller film, Lamhaa, which stars Sanjay Dutt and Bipasha Basu is directed by Parzania director, Rahul Dholakia. Although the backdrop of the movie is a love story, the film seeks to expose the corrupt nexus of politicians, intelligence and militancy in the state. Due to the controversial subject matter, the shoot of this movie has been stalled several times.

Dholakia reflects on the making of his movie. "I wanted to capture Kashmir in a way that no film maker had ever done before. The entire unit had to face several hostage-like situations. The environment in Kashmir was very hostile, yet we managed to shoot in places such as Sopore, Kurupwara, Bandipur. Even now, it's not very conducive for shooting."

Some scenes of the Priyanka Chopra starrer, Saat Khoon Maaf, directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, have also been shot in Kashmir. Sidhant Malhotra, a student from Jammu currently studying in Mumbai, says, "In India, no place is completely safe. But unless the state government ensures adequate security, not many would risk shooting in Kashmir." Ladakh is another exotic destination in the state that has been attracting filmmakers. Movies such as Dil Se (1998), Road to Ladakh (2002), Lakshya (2004), Frozen (2007) and Tashan (2008) were all shot there.

Around the valley

The stupendous success of 3 Idiots (2009) resulted in an influx of tourists. The final scene of the movie was shot at Pangong Lake, whereas the school scenes were shot at the Druk White Lotus School As Dholakia points out, "The state is a beautiful prison. It is time for filmmakers to move beyond the hill stations of Manali and Darjeeling. Kashmir has many stories to tell."