The first cinemas to reopen in Kashmir under Indian administration in more than twenty years. Reports from Moazum Mohammad and Abid Bhat discuss the impact on the populace of the cinema’s return to the region that has been devastated by conflict.
A papier-mâché theater logo and beautiful wood carvings on the ceiling and doors may be found in the foyer of the INOX multiplex in Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir.
Class 10 student Suhail Bhat missed class on Friday to attend the theater’s grand opening and showing of the Hindi film Vikram Vedha.
“I’m overjoyed. I never went to the movies; instead, I used to watch movies on my phone and TV “He claims.
Bhat stays in the lobby during the movie’s intermission with a bucket of popcorn and a soft drink, periodically taking pictures.
Three movie theaters, each with a high-tech sound system, plus a play area for children are part of the cinema complex.
Laal Singh Chaddha, an adaptation of the popular Hollywood film Forrest Gump, had its premiere on September 20. It stars Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan.
A “historic day” and “a reflection of a fresh dawn of optimism, dreams, confidence, and aspirations of people,” according to Manoj Sinha, lieutenant-governor of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Dhars claim they wanted to provide Kashmiri children with the opportunity to experience “the realm of fantasy,” a place ripped apart by decades of strife and violence.
Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority area in India, had 12 theaters up until the early 1990s, with 10 of them located in Srinagar, the province’s capital.
The area, which is famed for its lovely meadows and picturesque vistas, was also used to film many Bollywood movies.
But late 1980s military resistance to Indian control led to the closure of movie theaters.
A hardline organization called Allah Tigers announced a ban on movie theaters and liquor stores, declaring them to be incompatible with Islam, while the violence increased.
Many of these complexes were converted into security force camps in India, while others were made into malls and medical facilities.
In 1999, Indian authorities tried to reopen three halls, but their plans were halted when a fatal terrorist attack at the Regal Cinema left one person dead and eight others injured.
While some people, like Dilshada, have welcomed the reintroduction of film, others claim that the government has turned it into a political enterprise.