More than three years after he started filming his maiden — and Kashmiri language’s first — movie in almost three decades, filmmaker Hussain Khan hit a roadblock: there is no movie hall in the Valley where he could screen his film and recoup his investment.
On Tuesday, about three months after the bilingual movie – it has also been made in Urdu for a wider audience – was finally completed, Khan released Kashmir Daily in Srinagar’s Tagore Hall, not a movie hall by any stretch, but which is the only option that he has.
With tickets priced at Rs 150 – students are eligible for a discount of Rs 50 per ticket, 50-60 people came to watch the first day-first show of the movie that cost Khan about Rs 70 lakh to produce. The movie will screened in Tagore Hall till May 26 – three shows daily, except Friday.
“I have run out of money. We are actually showcasing this movie to generate funds so that we can release the movie in other centres across India. We are charging a nominal amount. On day one, the response is not that good. But, some companies have booked shows for Thursday and Friday. Hopefully we will generate some funds”, Khan, who has written, produced and directed the movie, told DNA.
Khan has spent his own money and borrowed from his friends to make Kashmir Daily, which depicts the life of a journalist.
“I spent Rs 70 lakh for this movie. It has been certified `U’ by CBFC. While the actual shooting took only 65 days, it took me three and half years to complete the film because of financial constraints. If everything goes well we may release the movie across the country and world,” he said.
Kashmir doesn’t have any movie hall. In 1989, after Allah Tigers, now a defunct militant outfit, banned cinema halls and sale and consumption of liquor in the Valley, every cinema hall shut down. Headed by self-styled Air Marshal Noor Khan, the outfit ransacked and looted liquor shops and threatened to set on fire cinema halls if they didn’t shut down on their own – a threat that had immediate response.
Incidentally, while cinema halls continue to be shut, the two liquor vends in Srinagar, which opened a few years back, are doing brisk business.
Till the late ’80s, there were eight single-screen theatres in Srinagar, of which four were in the old city, which became the citadel of the separatist movement in early ’90s. In 1999, the then Farooq Abdullah-led government tried to reopen the Regal Cinema in Srinagar. But, the move met with a gory end: the inaugural show witnessed a militant attack on the cinema hall, with grenades being lobbed inside, resulting the death of one person and injuring 12.
Many years later, attempts were made to re-open two other cinema halls – Neelam and Broadway, by providing heavy security cover. But, the heavy security cover ensured that cine-goers chose not to come. As a result, while Broadway closed within months, Neelam Cinema remained open for a few years, finally again shutting down in 2010. In between, on September 7, 2005, militants attacked Neelam Cinema, resulting in the death of two militants and a policeman.
“Unfortunately, there is no cinema here and I do not know why. We should have cinema halls and that will encourage filmmakers. It is not that we will show obscenity. We will show our stories. We have millions of stories. We have everything, landscapes, deserts of Ladakh and markets in Jammu,” Khan said.