Kashmiris remained entertainment starved for three decades: L-G Sinha

SRINAGAR: Kashmir Valley’s first multiplex was opened in the capital Srinagar on Tuesday with a special screening of Laal Singh Chaddha, the comedy-drama film directed by Advait Chandan from a screenplay by Eric Roth and Atul Kulkarni at one of its theatres.

This comes days after two multipurpose cinema houses were inaugurated by Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha in twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian which with Kulgam and Anantnag- two other districts of south Kashmir- have over the years been known as the hotbed of militancy. Apart from screening of movies, these cinema halls offer infotainment and various skill development facilities to the youth.

Sinha, while inaugurating the Valley’s first multiplex in Srinagar’s Shivpora area, reiterated that all the twenty districts of J&K will soon get a 100-seater multipurpose cinema hall each.

“The Kashmiri people remained entertainment starved for the past three decades but now with the inauguration of the Valley’s first multiplex and cinema houses which are coming up in every district will provide them the opportunity to relax and entertain themselves,” Sinha said.

In 1990, when the Kashmiri separatist campaign 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 requisitioned as temporary barracks by security forces and 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.

In 1998, the government had offered financial assistance of ten million rupees each 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.

Srinagar’s just opened multiplex, which has three movie theatres with a total capacity of 520 seats will be operated by INOX Leisure or INOX Movies- a movie theatre chain in India with its headquarters located in Mumbai, is equipped with the Dolby Atmos digital sound system which gives the viewers surround sound for the best movie experience. INOX already runs 164 multiplexes and 702 screens in 73 cities of the country.

Lt Governor said that movie lovers are everywhere in Kashmir which has a great history in cinema. “In good old days, people in large numbers would turn up at cinema houses to watch movies along with friends and families. Cinemas would provide them opportunities to think big and dream big besides entertaining them,” he said. He added, “Today, we are trying to reclaim and bring back the lost era. The opening of the cinema houses reflects the changing picture of J&K.”

He asserted that August 5, 2019 was "a historic day when a massive decision was taken by the Indian Parliament. The government at Delhi is not trying to buy peace in J&K, but to establish it permanently."

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