The shooting of Santosh Sivan's second Hindi film Dastaan is currently on in Pahalgam under the tightest security-arrangements possible. Says Anupam, "It's freezing over here. But I feel only the warmth. Coming to Kashmir is a home-coming for me."
Anupam is a displaced Kashmiri Pundit. He lost home and family to militancy. The actor recently did a film Dhokha written by Mahesh Bhatt about the aftermath of terrorism in the Kashmir Valley. He played a Kashmiri victim of police atrocity whose daughter becomes a human bomb. “But we didn't shoot Dhokha in Kashmir," reminds Anupam. "We’ve been shooting Santosh’s film in the Valley for a while now. And there's not a sign of any disturbance. Things have really changed over here."
Several efforts have been made in the recent past to revive those golden days of Kashmiri-yat in Hindi films when blockbuster films like Kashmir Ki Kali, Arzoo and Jab Jab Phool Khile were shot extensively in the paradisiacal region. One of the last films to be shot in Kashmir before the advent of militancy was Bemisaal where Amitabh Bachchan sang, "Kitni khubsoorat yeh tasveer hai, Mausam bemisal benazeer hai, Yeh Kashmir Hai. "
In strife-torn Kashmir directors, Vinod Chopra, Ashok Pundit and Shoorjit Sarkar shot their films Mission: Kashmir, Sheen and Yahaan in the Valley. But the image of the Valley as a haven for holidayers was lost. Santosh Sivan is the first major filmmaker in the last few years to shoot a Hindi film in Kashmir. Anupam sees it as a new beginning. "If a filmmaker as accomplished and well-known as Santosh takes the initiative, I'm sure other filmmakers will follow. I've just completed my shooting and it has been a mind-blowing experience."
On the way from Pahalgam to Chandanvadi at the Pakistan border, Anupam's jeep skidded off the road. "Anything could've happened. But the experience of working with Santosh is compensation for all the hiccups, including below-zero temperature in Kashmir," ends Anupam.