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Kashmir re-emerges as paradise for filmmakers

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Apr 29: Bollywood is again turning its eyes, and cameras too, towards its once-favourite destination Kashmir as with the increase in the footfall of tourists, film crews are returning to the Valley to capture the picturesque, shooting-friendly locales and rekindle the old romance with the place.
Of late, several movies have been filmed in Kashmir portraying the place in a positive way rather than focusing on the violence and strife. This year, so far, many stars, including Salman Khan, Abhishek Bachchan and Jacqueline Fernandez, have visited the Valley for filming.
Salman and his leading lady Jacqueline shot for the final lap of the third installment of action-thriller Race, which is produced by Ramesh Taurani. The crew after wrapping up shooting in the picturesque Sonamarg meadow in Ganderbal district in central Kashmir, started filming in the Ladakh region of the state.
This is the second time Salman has shot in Sonamarg. He filmed Kabir Khan-directed Bajrangi Bhaijaan at the meadow in 2015. Before Salman, this year Abhishek shot for director Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyan in the Valley.
The film also stars Vicky Kaushal and Taapsee Pannu. The crew filmed many scenes near the Thajiwas Glacier and Zojila in Sonamarg.
Producer and director Mahesh Bhatt is currently shooting in Kashmir for his next venture Jalebi. Bhatt would be shooting at several scenic locations till May 15. Another Bollywood filmmaker would be shooting in the Valley for a popular family TV serial Udaan.
The shooting of the serial would be held at Mughal Gardens, Shankaracharya Road, Nageen Lake and Downtown areas of the summer capital, besides popular destinations like Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Doodpathri and Yousmarg. Besides Bollywood, the filmmakers from South India are also visiting Kashmir this season for shooting.
Annupurna Studios Private Limited is shooting for Telugu serial Maddamandaram at different locations in Srinagar, Gulmarg and Sonamarg. One of the favourite destinations for the filmmakers once, Kashmir was overlooked for several years by Bollywood after the onset of militancy in 1990 and over the years, few films which were shot in the Valley focused primarily on the unrest.
With the improvement in the situation, the filmmakers have set their eyes on the Valley again. Many films, including Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jab Tak Hain Jaan and Ranbir Kapoor-led Rockstar were shot in Kashmir.
Last year, Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary was shot in Kashmir. Recently, a film based on Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was also shot in the Valley. Vidhu Vinod Chopra also shot here, in March this year, a film based on Kashmiri Pandits.
Officials and stakeholders believe that filmmakers visiting Kashmir in droves for shooting would give a fillip to the tourism sector here.
“Filmmakers returning to Kashmir is a good sign for tourism. We are doing our bit to facilitate the filmmakers and attract them to the Valley,” Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood Shah told PTI.
Shah said the department has granted permissions to several crews to shoot in the Valley.
“We have issued several permissions, including for shooting of a South Indian serial. I am sure many more will come to Kashmir,” he said.
The director said apart from breathtaking locales, the administrational support in Kashmir, competitive rates and hassle-free permits are the biggest attractions for the filmmakers to shoot in the Valley.
“People walk into the office and get permission on the same day,” Shah said, adding single-window clearance system for permissions helps attract filmmakers… We are hopeful the films will help us revive tourism in a big way,” he said.
Shah said currently, a BBC team is also in Kashmir making a special documentary on wild vegetables that grow in the Valley, especially the edible Morels (Morchella) commonly called ‘Guchchis’ – an expensive variety of mushrooms found in the Kashmir forests.
The director said not only Bollywood, but the other film and documentary-makers have started visiting Kashmir to showcase the rich diversity of the place to the outside world.
Shah said the department wants to showcase all the aspects of the Kashmir tourism to the outside world.
“We do not want to confine our tourism industry to leisure tours, but we need to diversify and cater to all tastes of the travellers,” he said.


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Mehbooba red-flags ‘arming residents’ in Chenab valley

Monitor News Bureau

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Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Saturday flayed Centre and state governments for their plans to “arm civilians” in sensitive Chenab Valley saying that such attempt will set a dangerous trend.
“Reports about administration trying to arm civilians under the garb of creating Village Defence Committees in Chenab Valley are disturbing and alarming especially at the time when the government has to be inclusive to avoid further alienation of youth across the state,” Mehbooba said in a statement.
She said that similar experiments of “arming civilians” under anti-militancy grid in 90s led to “complete chaos.”
“The wounds inflicted upon the general masses due to such move are still fresh.
“In communally sensitive areas like Chenab Valley the plans are fraught with only dangerous consequences,” she said.
Mehbooba added that the union government recently had planned to wind-up all such defence committees.
“… but suddenly, they are taking a U-Turn. Not only such committees are being strengthened but even fresh arms being were issued, that too to the people with a particular political ideology,” she said.
The PDP president condemned the registration of a “false and frivolous” FIR against the party leaders including its former legislator and senior leader Firdous Tak and Youth District President Kishtwar Wasil Doolwal for seeking immediate roll back of such plans.
“The party leaders have represented the sentiments and aspirations of the people but it seems that the local administration was working under pressure from a particular political organisation. The registration of the case only speaks about the sorry state of affairs in Chenab Valley. The registration of the case seems to be a step taken under political compulsions and it should be rectified,” she said, while demanding immediate withdrawal of the case.

Dissolves PAC
Monitor News Bureau
Srinagar, Jul 20: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti Saturday dissolved the party’s top decision-making Political Affairs Committee (PAC).
The move comes less than a week ahead of the PDP’s 20th foundation day anniversary scheduled to be observed on July28.
“Mehbooba Mufti has dissolved the PAC and a new body will be reconstituted in near future,” a PDP spokesman said.
While no reasons were assigned for the sudden decision of the PDP president, sources in the party said it was done in the wake of number of senior party leaders including several MLAs and former ministers quitting the party.
Those who have left the PDP include Mohammad Khalil Bandh, Altaf Bukhari, Haseeb Drabu, Imran Ansari, Abid Ansari and Abbas Wani (all former MLAs).

 
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Cop turned drug peddler arrested

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 20: J&K Police Saturday arrested a drug peddler in Srinagar who turned out to be a cop.
A spokesperson said that Srinagar police intercepted and arrested one drug peddler at a checkpoint near Batamaloo.
The peddler, as per the police spokesperson, was identified as Mohammad Altaf Rather son of Akbar Rather resident of Panzan Chadoora.
“It is learnt that the arrested person works in Police department as Head Constable and has been accordingly placed under suspension,” the spokesperson said, adding the police seized 650 gms of charas and cash amount Rs 19,150 from his possession.
Accordingly case FIR No. 64/2019 under relevant sections of law was registered in the matter.
“He was shifted to Police Station Batamaloo where he remains in custody. One motor cycle bearing registration number JK01S-2152 also has been seized,” the spokesperson said.
The police requested people to come forward with any information regarding drug peddlers in their neighbourhood.

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Drugs trap to spoil Kashmiri youth: Farooq

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 20: Member of Parliament and National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah asked the youth of J&K to stay away from rising drug menace.
“The rising drug menace in Kashmir is a trap used to spoil the future of Kashmiri youth. I urge youth to stay away from it,” Farooq said while addressing a convention of NC workers at Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Farooq added that “if the special status of Jammu and Kashmir will be removed, all the presidential laws will come to an end by itself.”
Member of Parliament Hasnain Masoodi, Member of Parliament M Akber Lone, General Secretary Ali M Sagar, former MLA Handwara Choudhary M Ramzan, provincial president Nasir Alsam Wani and Sharif-ud-din Sharik were present on the occasion.

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