With a view to promote travel industry big time, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, promised a hassle-free business environment to woo filmmakers for shooting their films in the picturesque locales of Kashmir valley. He termed negative perception about travelling to Kashmir as one of the most difficult challenges confronting him but promised to overturn it with little help from Mumbai’s film fraternity, for whom Valley’s scenic locales have been no less than a second home. “Self-praise is no recommendation. Kashmir has been a centre of attraction for Bollywood filmmakers, who have been amazed by its incomparable beauty,” he stated. The Chief Minister said this in his terse speech while addressing glitterati of Mumbai film industry during the concluding function of 17th MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Images) Film Festival, at Taj Lands End, here Thursday evening. Top Bollywood personalities including Salman Khan, Kiran Rao, Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan, Anupama Chopra, Retaish Deshmukh, Nandita Das and Kali Koechlin were present on the occasion. As a prelude to MAMI Film Festival, Mufti Sayeed also interacted with a select group of 12 Kashmiri students from MERC (Media Education Research Centre) of Kashmir University, who had been specially invited by noted filmmaker and son of the soil, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, to Mumbai for an exposure visit to learn the finer arts of creative cinema. The Chief Minister, who holds the charge of Tourism department, also interacted with Salman Khan, who pledged to continue his tryst with Kashmir by coming to shoot each of his films. Kiran Rao, MAMI Chairperson and wife of Bollywood superstar, Amir Khan, who has never been to Kashmir, also promised to register her maiden visit. Describing Kashmir as a place of fascinating charms that has cast its spell on people with creative and artistic inclination, Mufti Sayeed urged the bigwigs of Mumbai film world to play an active role in helping government tide over the negative perception about travelling to Kashmir. “I extend my gratitude to Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan for having chosen valley for shooting their films in the recent past,” he said, while urging Bollywood to rediscover Valley through its lenses and become its brand ambassadors, just like in the Sixties when films like Kashmir Ki Kali were entirely shot in the valley. Favouring more cultural exchanges, Mufti Sayeed said it should not be one-way traffic and extended an invitation from the people of J&K to give them an opportunity to extend its fabled hospitality to young filmmakers from all over the country. Offering full support to the film industry in J&K, the Chief Minister promised a ‘’Single Window Clearance System’ to crews looking for exotic locales for shooting their films. He said he will also focus on back-end linkages like procurement of high-tech equipment and logistics to make it easier for big-banner production houses to travel to the valley. “I hope we provide the right kind of environment to help you feel at home,” he said amidst huge round of applause by the knowledgeable audience. As many as 200 films from 58 countries of the world were screened during MAMI Festival, which was attended by no less than 7000 delegates.
2015 Kashmir Despatch