The place where the Bollywood movies put its existence in most of the movies at least one time, for 20 years nobody has seen a movie in a theatre at that place!
Kashmir, the spot of dreams enriching every director and filmmaker is found different today from the Kashmir of 60’s and 70’s. The place which once had a thriving culture of cinemagoers falls secluded within the edge of terrors and political agenda.
There are countless stories that are left behind the screen of fear, many have faded away, and few remained constrained. These stories remain mythical tales of a time that can hardly be imagined by the generation today.
The Kashmir that the generation sees today is the state of perpetual conflict and has been for the entirety of their lives. Since after Kashmiri aggressors propelled a revolt in 1989 which lead to more than 68,000 individuals dead, this once-flourishing city shrivelled into deep fear.
A locale we encountered near the Palladium cinema hall, explained in utter grief that “Those days are gone, my son. You would merely believe looking at the scenario of the place now that this place you are standing, was once crowded with the people running after movie tickets. Day or night seemed to be same by then with all happiness and feel of freedom. I and my friends used to come up here for the late night show, and then after the show, we used to sip a cup of coffee and talk about the happy happening. 10 o’clock at night was normal and safe to walk back home without any fear”. Well, those mythical days are gone long back, and now have risen up with the sound of fear, death and impatient serene beats.
It’s eye-opening to read how a seemingly cordial subject like cinema, got demolished in the flames of conflict. The theatre, which was once a platform of happiness and social gathering, today lies in ruins.
The derelict, havocked, and abandoned cinema halls have remained just as daily reminders of the times that they once playfully lived in. Perhaps one of the world’s most coveted cinematic cultures has shunted down with blood.
We went to the civil secretariat way, and there was Neelam Cinema having military installation in it, coiled around with border side wire, and bunkers with armed soldiers. The theatre looked more of a military camp now. In the once blooming city of Srinagar, the shabby Neelam Cinema and the others sit quietly.
On asking the sorrowful locals, we remained shuttered with the fact that the only functional cinema hall in Indian administered Kashmir was Neelam Cinema that was also about 16 years back from now. Nevertheless, the story remains more of uncertain and pathetic as they revealed that there were around fifteen cinema halls running successfully with an ardent following of Hindi cinema in the entire region of Kashmir.
Kashmir, which was one of the most selectable places for the filmmakers, is now taken over by the militants and the security forces. The places which were once a platform of happiness and friendly gathering have turned to be an interrogations centres and lodges. Things have changed from the past days with the political tumult among the people and the beginning of militancy in the late 1980s, have forced the filmmakers to turned their steps towards Switzerland and New Zealand replacing the magnificence of Kashmir.
The attempt of reopening the cinema froze to everyone’s expectation and the public state Kashmir got handed over to the rebellious. The happy living place came under the control of the protestors and the sound of happiness and friend’s chattering turned into the bomb blast, gunfire and painful shriek of the innocent.
It is bewildering that Kashmir that is today, the site of continuous shutdowns, killings, curfews and crackdowns was once a place where cinema theatre flourished. For them, Kashmir is in a condition of interminable conflict and has been for the entire of their lives. There is no getting away from the fact that they live in a place that standout amongst the most mobilized areas on the planet, that their lives are characterized by the legislative issues of their district, that they have little control over and that they are prisoners to a contention which are the aftereffect of a land dispute that has extended on for more than 68 years.
(This story has been written by Abhishek Biswas).
(Disclaimer: This is an opinionated article to reflect a viewpoint on the subject).