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  • Deccan Chronicle

Pulwama, Shopian, hotbed of militancy, get first multipurpose cinema houses

SRINAGAR: Pulwama and Shopian which with two other districts- Kulgam and Anantnag- of south Kashmir have over the years been known as the hotbed of militancy on Sunday got two multipurpose cinema houses, which apart from screening of movies offer infotainment and various skill development facilities to the youth.

Meanwhile, the Valley’s first multiplex will be thrown open in Srinagar’s Shivpora area by Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, on Tuesday. This will be followed by a special screening of Laal Singh Chaddha, the comedy-drama film directed by Advait Chandan from a screenplay by Eric Roth and Atul Kulkarni.

Sinha, after inaugurating multipurpose cinema houses in the twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian, termed it a historic day for Jammu and Kashmir and said that such multipurpose cinema halls will be opened in every district of the Union Territory. He also said that efforts are on to provide all other facilities to the J&K’s youth apart from providing them more job opportunities.

He said, “The youth of J&K are very much talented, and it is being ensured that they do get platforms to showcase their talent.” He added, “Under ‘Mission Youth’, it has been decided to open multipurpose cinema halls in every district and today one each in Pulwama and Shopian have been made available for the public so that they, especially the youth, can benefit from these.”

The official sources said that such cinema halls are being opened also in Anantnag, Srinagar, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Kishtwar and Reasi districts of the UT.

Post abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, the government and other stakeholders began making a fresh effort at reviving cinema in the restive Kashmir Valley. A multiplex is coming up in Srinagar and the government is planning to reopen all existing cinema houses and help in the construction of new ones in and outside the capital Srinagar.

Sinha had said in October last year that the government is making an all-out effort to resuscitate film and cinema in Kashmir and create a vibrant film ecosystem to bring back the ‘golden era’ of filmmaking in the UT and transform it into the most preferred film destination.

In 1990, when the Kashmiri ‘freedom struggle’ burst into a major violence, all cinema houses, theatres and other sources of entertainment in the predominantly Muslim Valley were shut in response to a diktat issued by the separatists. Soon some of the cinema houses were occupied by security forces reinforcements sent in from different parts of the country to crush the rebellion. While a few of these continue to be occupied by them, the rest remain abandoned and are in dilapidated condition or have been converted into hospitals or shopping malls.

Almost 10 years later, the government had offered financial assistance of ten million rupees to the owners to encourage them to renovate and reopen the theatres. Of more than a dozen theatres only three-Broadway, Regal and Neelam- in Srinagar availed it and began screening movies. But soon a grenade attack outside Regal which killed a couple of cinema goers led to their closure again.

On Sunday, Lt. Governor Sinha said that cinema is a powerful creative medium which reflects culture, values and aspirations of the people, opens the door to the world of knowledge and new discoveries and enables people to get a better understanding of each-other’s culture.

An official spokesman said that the new film policy introduced by the government last year seeks to promote overall growth of film industry in the UT, setting up of J&K Film Development Council and providing hands on access to websites for talent pool and all shooting destinations. It will also facilitate the development of shooting locales, infrastructure for film screening, revival of closed cinema halls, upgrading existing cinema halls, encouraging setting up of multiplexes, destination marketing, organizing the J&K film festival, and restoration and preservation of films from the region, he added.

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