JAMMU, Jan 4: While the film lovers in the world have already tasted the screening of movies on IMAX and Extreme DigitalCinemas, here in Kashmir, after a-30-years of long lull, people are going to witness a ‘functional’ cinema theatre very soon. The governor led administration is all set to kick start the bidding process in this regard.
Authorities’ privy to this development divulged to Kashmir Despatch that the Governor Satya Pal Malik has been expressing keen interest in the opening of a cinema theatre in volatile Kashmir valley so that the youth could enjoy the latest Bollywood movies and spend some leisure time with each other.
It was informed that soon after assuming office in the State, Governor Malik was exploring ways to provide means of entertainment and recreation for the youth of Valley who have been beraing the brunt of turmoil for the last over three decades. For this purpose, besides a sports stadium of international standard, a functional cinema hall is also being planned to be established in Kashmir valley.
It is pertinent to mention here that the cinema owners in Kashmir had attempted to reopen theatres in the year 1999 when government at that time offered them interest-free loans. There were three cinema halls which accepted the offer and attempted to re-open the halls. They later had to close down their businesses following some attacks allegedly carried out by the suspected militants.
On September 24, 1999, a grenade explosion took place outside one cinema hall located in the city center, when the viewers were coming out after the maiden show. One person from Lasjan area namely Muhammad Hafeez Rather died and a dozen others were wounded in that explosion. Later all the theatres decided to wind up their businesses again.
Before the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir, cinema halls were one of the big businesses in Kashmir valley. There were nine single-screen cinemas in Srinagar. But at present most of them have either been converted into the forces garrison or the shopping malls. One of the cinema halls like Sheeraz in the old city has been transformed into security camp.
The Khayam cinema houses now a heart institute while the Naaz cinema has been turned into a mammoth shopping plaza. The skeleton of Palladium Theater in historic Lal Chowk housed security bunkers. It served as a makeshift office for the police officers deployed in the area.
The present generation of Kashmir has seen cinemas in the movies that too from the pirated DVDs and CDs available on the roadside pavements. Only the affluent people from Kashmir who could afford to travel outside Kashmir take kids to cinemas to show them how a movie theatre looks like.
Out of the nine single-screen cinema halls in Srinagar City, most have been converted either into shopping malls or hotels by the owners. Others are used by the security forces as their base camps.