Bollywood is rediscovering Kashmir, G20 meet will further promote film tourism: Union Tourism Secy
New Delhi: Shammi Kapoor-starrer “Kashmir Ki Kali” splashed the natural splendour of Kashmir on the silver screen in the 1960s and went on to become a major hit. Six decades later, riding on record footfall of tourists, India as the chair of the G20 is seeking to bring the Bollywood romance back to the Valley.
A three-day Tourism Working Group Meeting of the influential bloc was recently held in Srinagar and some side events themed on film tourism were also hosted in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
Union Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh on Friday interacted with the media and shared how the third G20 tourism meeting from May 22-24 has brought “renewed focus” on shooting of films in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Some days before the G20 meet, actors Shah Rukh Khan and Taapsee Pannu shot for a film in Jammu and Kashmir. And, many other films, regional cinema and TV series are being shot in J&K now. So, the process is going on, and Bollywood is rediscovering Jammu and Kashmir. And the G20 meet taking place in Srinagar and presence of actors like Ram Charan of Oscar fame there, will further promote film tourism,” he said.
Charan, a lead actor in Telugu film “RRR” whose “Natu Natu” song became a global sensation and went on to win the Oscar in the best original song category, had attended a session on ‘Film Tourism for Economic Growth and Cultural Preservation’ during the G20 meet.
“I am truly grateful for the opportunity to showcase the richness of our rooted culture and mysticism through our films at the G20 Summit. Indian Cinema possesses a unique beauty in its ability to impart valuable life lessons through highly relatable content,” he had tweeted on May 24.
Singh said the G20 meeting held in Srinagar will bolster tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, and film tourism in turn will get promoted which will feed into overall growth of tourism in the region.
He shared that in 2022, Jammu and Kashmir registered a record footfall of 1.88 crore tourists, out of whom 26 lakh had visited the Kashmir valley, adding that the number is expected to cross the two crore-mark for the year 2023.
He cited how films like “Kashmir Ki Kali” romanced Kashmir in the 1960s and left a deep impression on people’s minds. Its delightful numbers sung by legendary singer Mohammed Rafi, are still in the consciousness of people, and often the subject of popular remixes.
Union Tourism Secretary Singh said in Pahalgam a valley got dubbed as ‘Betaab Valley’ after the famous film “Betaab” (1983) was shot there. The movie of the romance genre, was Sunny Deol’s debut film.
In the 1964 film “Kashmir Ki Kali”, Sharmila Tagore plays the role of a Kashmiri woman and cinema lovers still recall her cine avatar in traditional Kashmiri attire. Directed by Shakti Samanta with music by O P Nayyar, the opening credits of the film offer natural vignettes of the Valley in the background.
Between 1960-1990, a number of films were shot in Kashmir before the onset of militancy.
However, in the last few years, tourism has picked up again in Jammu and Kashmir, and the local Union territory administration has also brought out a film policy to incentivise film shooting there.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir is trying to make the best possible efforts towards creation of a vibrant film ecosystem in the UT, says the website of the J&K Film Policy 2021.
The steps taken to create a suitable environment and promotion of film production in Jammu and Kashmir, include “administrative assistance to ease film making in Jammu & Kashmir by setting up a single-window cell to grant permission for shooting films, preferably within 2-4 weeks”, it says.
Other films shot in Kashmir in the last few years include “Haider”, “The Kashmir Files”, “Highway”, “Raazi”, “Fitoor” and “Notebook”.
Asked if film tourism based on shooting locations circuit can be developed in India, as in many foreign countries, Singh said, “Yes, it can be”, adding, many state governments are also taking initiatives.
Film tourism, or film-induced tourism, is a specialised or niche form of tourism where visitors explore locations and destinations which have become popular due to their appearance in films and television series.
Globally, shooting locations of “The Lord of the Rings” films in New Zealand, the “Harry Potter” franchises in the UK, and “Game of Thrones” series are now popular tourist sites as well.