By Hindustan Times
A favourite haunt of the Bollywood since 70's, Kashmir's picturesque hill station Pahalgam on Monday saw actor Shahrukh Khan shooting his first ever movie in the valley and bringing back the destination, with a very few movies shot since turbulent years of 1990s, on the film industry's map.
King Khan reached Srinagar from Ladakh in the morning and took a chopper ride up to the mountains of Pahalgam, 100 south of Srinagar. Wearing black dress and army boots, Khan shot all day at Aru in upper reaches of Pahalgam.
"Dark clouds, wet roads, too early for even life to feel alive…but I am on my way to make movies. A cigarette and coffee as co-travelers," wrote Khan, on the micro-blogging website Twitter, as he reached Pahalgam in the morning.
Khan's presence in Pahalgam revived memories of 70s when Rajesh Khanna's blockbuster movie 'Roti' put a spotlight, for the first time, on the destination --- famous for its fast-flowing river Lidder and skyline delineated with huge mountain ranges dotted with pine trees.
'Roti' was followed by Rishi Kapoor-Dimple Kapadia starrer blockbuster Bobby. The hut where the famous song 'Aur chabhi kho jaya' was shot continues to be famous as Bobby Hut, serving the state governor and the chief minister these days.
Another Bollywood milestone of Pahalgam remains Betaab Valley, the small green meadow where Sunny Deol-starrer 'Betaab' was shot. Vidhu Vinod Chopra's entire film Khamoshi was shot in a Pahalgam hotel.
More than a dozen Bollywood movies were shot at the tourist destination up to 1990, when militancy started in Kashmir. For two decades, Bollywood remained a distant dream for Pahalgam till film director Imtiyaz Ali's 'Rockstar' was shot in February last year. Since then the locales of Pahalgam has seen a beeline of Bollywood shootings, with Khan's visit coming as an icing on the cake.
"Shahrukh Khan's visit is a good omen. (Director) Yash Chopra is a friend and I persuaded him to revive his 70-mm romantic relations with the place," said Nazir Bakshi, a businessman, hosting the stars.
The tourism sector, which expects to host two- million visitors this year after a dip in the militant violence, sees Khan's presence as good omen.
"Khan's presence means a comeback of Bollywood to Kashmir. We have expectations that his visit will send across the message that the valley is safe," said Abdul Aziz Tuman, heading a houseboats' owners association.
Khan, who might stay for a week, is shooting for a Yash Chopra's movie, whose name continues to be under the wraps. After Pahalgam, Khan and his co-star Anushka Sharma will shoot at Dal Lake.
Chopra is working on a love-triangle film with Khan playing an army officer. The other stars are Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. Khan had earlier shot 'Dil Se' in 1990s at Kashmir's Ladakh region but never visited the valley.