Amazing Experience: Bollywood crew in Gurez valley for film shoot

'60% dialogues of the movie to be in Kashmiri’
Amazing Experience: Bollywood crew in Gurez valley for film shoot
GK Photo

Bandipora, Oct 14: As the silence of guns along the most volatile Kashmir borders is leading to an increase in the number of tourist arrivals, and breathes new life into the traditions and customs of the villagers, otherwise hit by daily skirmishes, the lesser exploited regions are now ringing with bells of Bollywood.

A film crew of 30 members has reached the frontier Gurez valley in north Kashmir's Bandipora district and is busy shooting for a part of the film. The movie will be the 'first' by any Bollywood director to be shot in the Gurez valley which had long remained restricted to outsiders and locals alike till recently.

"It is my seventh trip to Gurez. The first time I came was in 2018. I loved the place so much that I wanted to shoot here," national award winning Hindi film maker, producer, writer, editor and author, Onir, best known for films My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal, I Am Shab, and Kuch Bheege Alfaaz, told Greater Kashmir.

Onir is directing a film named Chahiye Thoda Pyaar, which he says is a 'story of friendship between a security guard and a local Kashmiri' and a group of trekkers who come from Kolkata.

"It is a story of friendship, of challenges at the time, and ups and downs that happen in the relationship," Onir said.

This is a part of a 'bigger film', Onir said, which will be shot in Kolkata, Mumbai and Banglore. Each part is about 40 minutes long and, "I am extremely proud, and don't think anyone would have shot Gurez as beautifully as we have done".

In the film, Onir said, "all the Kashmiri characters are played by Kashmiris while the dialogues are also in Kashmiri and not in Urdu. “ In the main cast, there is only one actor from Kerala and three actors from Bengal who come for the trek. "Apart from that everyone is Kashmiri and, 50-60 per cent of dialogues are also in Kashmiri," he said.

Mesmerised by the experience, Onir said that it has been an 'amazing experience' so far as week progresses into a week shooting the valley.

"It hass been wonderful shooting here. Everyone is extremely helpful. We have been shooting at different locations like Dawar, Sheikhpora and Bagtore, but it has all over been an amazing experience," Onir said.

"I used to come to a hotel named Sikander during earlier trips, and always used to have Ghostaba (Kashmir cuisine). So I incorporated this in the film as the father of my character who owns this restaurant.

"It is not an artificial way of including a place in the film, but it is having experiences, the people and everything," the director said.

On asking whether he had anticipated shooting in Gurez, Onir said, "In 2018, I just came with a friend of mine. He told me that you have been all over Kashmir but you are yet to see one of the most beautiful places, and at the time when I came here, the roads and all were not as good as now. It took me nearly eight hours at the time but, having reached here, I think it's one of the most beautiful unexplored places in Kashmir".

Besides the beauty, hospitality, and challenges the place has to offer, one thing which has extremely saddened the movie maker is the growing plastic waste along the pristine Kishanganga river which cuts through the valley and in lush green meadows. This year as per government figures over 35000 tourists visited the 'extremely fragile' valley, it included breaking scores expeditions too.

"People are going to Gulmarg and Pahalgam, I think they should come to Gurez. Of course, there are problems and issues like there being no electricity for most of the day. You do not have enough good hotels to stay in. All that is their problem, for me more than that is the beauty of the place and its people."

"One of the biggest challenges Gurez is facing which made me very sad is pollution," Onir said, adding, "as we were shooting by Kishanganga, the number of plastic bottles and everything lying around at this beautiful place...Tourism, development and everything is important but it is important to have eco-friendly surroundings".

Onir said that he uses to guide his crew not to take plastic water bottles along and discourages them from buying the chips as well.

"When we were going trekking, I was constantly telling my crew that let us not buy plastic bottles, let's not buy chips and throw the covers. But you see a lot of other people who have been trekking have thrown the waste in open. So the mountains are getting dirty, and unless authorities really wake up, because, it is not so difficult that a place that can be a centre to tourism have proper waste disposal. Kishanganga is becoming polluted, Its banks are really dirty and I feel sad because it is a beautiful place and people here need that support like basic things of electricity and waste management which is very important."

Impressed by the hospitality, Onir said, "People have been so helpful. They have gone out of their way. For me, one of the beauties of the place is the people of Gurez".

He said, all the civil and army authorities have been extremely cooperative making our "movement smooth at a place which is very close to the border".

Yet the sudden and 'extreme cold' has taken the crew by 'surprise', as for Onir 'it is a challenge to wake up in the morning' and find a way to touch "the icy cold water", he expressed with a laughter.

However, the "joy of going out and shooting is much more than this difficulty", said. The entire crew also finds it 'interesting' to return to the hotel welcoming them with Kashmir cuisines like Rista, Goshtaba, Kabab, Haakh and Yakhni. "It is like we are experiencing Gurez in its true form and we havenot had regular food fore almost a week we have been here,”he said.

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