Multiplex – A good beginning in Kashmir!

With the opening of new multiplex cinema halls in , a new chapter in Kashmir's tumultuous relationship with the movies begins. In the last three decades, there have been no cinemas in Jammu & Kashmir. When militancy erupted in Kashmir in the late 1980s and early 1990s, theatres were forced to close their doors. Film theatres were among the first casualties of the Kashmir valley's increasing militancy. In August 1989, the Allah Tigers, a lesser-known and now-defunct militant group commanded by self-proclaimed Air Marshal Noor Khan, imposed a ban on theatres and bars in the region through local publications. Extremists who advocated for an Islamic insurrection used the phrase from the 1979 Iranian revolution, “La Sharakeya Wala Garabeya, Islamia, Islamia” (Neither West nor East, only Islam is better). Locals who enjoyed seeing movies at first took the diktat lightly, but extremists continued to threaten them, setting fire to parts of the theatres. By December 31, 1989, all cinemas in Kashmir had been closed. Kashmir's first cinema theatre hall, Kashmir Talkies, opened in 1932 and was later renamed Palladium and Front Square before becoming the epicentre of all political activities and events. In the 1980s, Kashmir had about 15 cinema halls, nine of which were in Srinagar. Broadway, Regal, Neelam, Naaz, Khayam, and Sheraz were among the city's popular theatres. Cinema Halls, which were closed in early 1990, took on a deserted appearance with the passage of time, transforming these once popular venues into ghostly complexes. Unsuccessful attempts to reopen these closed Cinema Halls in 1999, 2017, and 2018 resulted in the plan being discontinued for the time being. A generation has grown up in the Valley without ever visiting a movie theatre. For the longest time, the nearest cinema was in Jammu, which is 300 kilometres distant. Of course, the residents of the region could watch movies on the small screen thanks to DVDs, pen drives, and the internet. However, there has been a shift in recent years. The Kashmir Film Festival began in 2015 and continues to attract filmmakers and film enthusiasts from around the world. Kashmir's Dal Lake will have an open-air floating theatre in October 2021, with the goal of attracting more tourists. And, this year, the Jammu and Kashmir government hosted the first-ever film festival in Srinagar from June 15 to June 20. Things are expected to change with the launch of the new multiplex. Yes. Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha opened a multifunctional cinema theatre in each of the twin south Kashmir districts of Pulwama and Shopian on Sunday, according to reports. According to a government press release, cinema halls would be launched soon in Anantnag, Srinagar, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Kishtwar, and Reasi. With the launch of Aamir Khan's Lal Singh Chadda, Kashmir receives its first multiplex. When terrorism gripped the region in 1989, cinemas were labelled “unIslamic” and forced to close. “First day, first shows” have returned to Kashmir. The Valley will get its first multiplex, with three theatres and a total seating capacity of 520. Jammu and Kashmir Governor Manoj Sinha launched INOX's cinema theatre in Srinagar's Shivpora, near Badami Bagh cantonment. The newly completed Aamir Khan-Kareena Kapoor film Lal Singh Chaddha will be the first to be exhibited here. “This is a fantastic dream that has come true for us,” expressed the multiplex's owner Vikas Dhar. The regular screening will start from September 30. While the public response is yet to be seen in coming days, the event however,marks the beginning of a new chapter in Kashmir's troubled relationship with movies.