After a long break of 25 years, movies are being shot in Kashmir. Gradually film-makers, film-stars and crew are shooting at the scenic Kashmir region, to sing and dance in green meadows against the backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Films have done a lot in promoting Kashmir as a popular tourism destination but there is something which film makers as well as the hosts need to be conscious of.
Some film makers have been showing the negative side of Kashmir which has played an ugly role in promoting Kashmir as a safe Tourism destination. Film makers must understand that there is much more to show on Kashmir than mere politics.
Several romantic movies have been shot here which have done wonderfully well at box office. The film makers have been kind enough to shoot here but only those who have an aim of showing Kashmir as peaceful destination with its rich culture should be encouraged and those who show Kashmir as a troubled place should be discouraged.
The Government of J&K has its part to play here. It should thoroughly check the synopsis before issuing the permission to film makers and make sure that no scene which shows violence or hostility should be allowed to shoot here.
Undoubtedly Kashmir offers some of the most dazzling locations, some of which are as good as those found in Europe. But what makes it even more tempting to filmmakers is the fact that it costs several times less to shoot here, than to shoot outside India.
To make it more cost effective, the local hosts (Travel Agents, Hotels, Transporters, Government agencies, Artists and everybody associated ) should offer exclusive deals to attract film makers and prove good hosts for which Kashmiri's are very famous the world over.
With an aim to promote tourism, Jammu and Kashmir Government has done some good job of late to make it smooth for the film makers. They have set up a single window clearance system for granting permission within seven days of application for shooting movies in the Valley but a lot more needs to be done on part of the Government.
They should set up a committee of experts who will exclusively promote Kashmir as a film maker's destination. Government of J&K also needs to identify and punish those locals who have been offering expensive deals and those who indulge in unfair trade practices.
Most importantly we must invest in infrastructure required for film makers especially the equipment, which the film makers usually have to get from outside of J&K which proves an expensive affair for them.
If that is followed in letter and spirit I am sure, not only Bollywood films but film makers from all over the world will be tempted to shoot in Kashmir which will have a large impact on the otherwise ailing Tourism industry of Kashmir.
(Farooq A Kuthoo is an RTI Activist and an entrepreneur)