Srinagar: A Bollywood film unit has alleged that they had to cancel its shoot at Gulmarg ski resort after the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) and its staff misbehaved with them.
Anupam Malik, Executive Producer of the Star Fortune Movies told Greater Kashmir over the phone that they faced “unruly behavior of the CEO GDA and its staff” despite having shooting permission from the office of Deputy Commissioner (DC) Baramulla.
The DC Baramulla’s permission, a copy of which is with Greater Kashmir, reads that the film crew can shoot in Gulmarg and its adjoining areas from November 10 to 25.
“We had to shoot a song for the film in Gulmarg and wanted to show the snowfall. On November 7, there was the prediction of snowfall and we had already decided to go to Gulmarg on the day to shoot,” Malik said. “Our line producer had informed the CEO GDA office through WhatsApp and email on November 4 that we have to shoot in Gulmarg on November 7 as we didn’t want to miss showcasing snowfall in the film.”
The letter written to the CEO GDA by the production house, a copy of which is also with Greater Kashmir, reads that they want permission to shoot the music videos on November 7.
On reaching Gulmarg in the morning, the unit was looking for spots to shoot.
“A few hours later, the CEO of GDA and his officials came on our set and told us that we can’t shoot there as we don’t have any permission. But we presented the DC Baramulla’s permission which he denied saying he doesn’t accept DC’s permission,” Malik said.
He said that they requested the official that in case any permission was required to shoot here from the GDA, they could get it from his office immediately.
“The official told us to stop shooting or he would lodge an FIR against our crew. We requested that one of our team members will come to his office and complete all formalities and urged him not to stop shooting as it could incur losses to us. But he didn’t listen and asked one of his men to stand in front of our camera to stop us from shooting,” Malik said. “After keeping us waiting for the entire day, we were told to pay a GR payment of Rs 10,000 in the evening and proceed to shoot. But it was all dark and there was no light. That’s when we decided to cancel the shoot in Kashmir and move back.”
Malik said that they had heard about the hospitality of Kashmir but were shocked.
“Is this the hospitality of Kashmir? We came here to promote Kashmir as a film-shooting location and see how the officials are behaving with us here,” he said.
Malik said that they had three projects in the pipeline for Kashmir but would not return to shoot here anymore.
“We will instead go to Uttarakhand as the Chief Minister of the state welcomes us there and wants us to promote their places,” he said.
Rahi Khan, the line producer of Real Kashmir Productions who organised the shoot of the film in Kashmir told Greater Kashmir that such incidents bring a bad name to Kashmir.
“At a time when Lieutenant Governor is putting a lot of effort to bring Bollywood back to Kashmir, it seems that such officers don’t want film shootings here,” Khan said. “I request the LG’s administration to replace such officials from such important posts. We want friendly officials here. I was also confused to see that the official had no idea of J&K Film Policy.”
He also questioned the government over its single-window clearance system for shootings.
“Then why are we made to make the rounds of every government office to get permissions,” Khan said.
CEO GDA Ghulam Jeelani Zargar rubbished all allegations.
“The film unit was shooting without permission. As per the norms, they have to seek GDA’s permission first to shoot in Gulmarg after getting DC Baramulla’s permission. They had permission to shoot from November 10 but were shooting on November 7,” he said.
Zargar also denied allegations of misbehaviour with the film unit.
“Why would we misbehave with them,” he said.
Aiming to revive the lost glory of J&K as a top location for the film industry, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on August 5 last year launched J&K’s Film Policy-2021 in Srinagar in presence of actor Amir Khan, filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, and producer Mahaveer Jain.
Speaking at the event, Sinha said it was a historic day for J&K and that the government was creating a vibrant film ecosystem to make the region Bollywood’s favourite once again.
“Among one of the best in the country, the New Film Policy will transform J&K and revive its halcyon days of being a cinematographer’s delight,” he said. “I invite filmmakers from across the world to come to J&K and explore the pristine beauty of J&K. At the same time, also avail a host of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, besides world-class facilities offered by the J&K government.”
The LG Sinha-led government has been working hard to bring film units and theatres back to Kashmir.
The officials had said that the New Film Policy would also facilitate the development of shooting locales, infrastructure for film screening, the revival of closed cinema halls, upgrading existing cinema halls, encouraging setting up of multiplexes and cinema halls, destination marketing, organising J&K Film Festival, and restoration and preservation of films from the region.