Kashmir Indepth

Kashmiris recall pre 1990 times about cinemas

Ishtiyaq Ahmad

Srinagar Sep 20 (KINS): It was an emotional moment for Kashmiris in general and those families who owned cinemas before 1990’s in Kashmir in particular when Jammu and Kashmir’s Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Tuesday inaugurated Kashmir’s first multiplex cinema in Srinagar, the summer capital of the Union Territory.

After over three decades, a cinema hall in Kashmir will allow locals to see movies on a large screen for the first time in Srinagar’s Shivpora area. This reminds the people here about 1990 times when there were many cinemas operational in the valley.

Kashmiri businessman Vijay Dhar, and film distributors and theatre chain INOX, have collaborated to open the Valley’s first multiplex in September. This multiplex has three movie theatres with a total seating capacity of 520 people.

On Tuesday, Amir Khan’s Lal Singh Chaddha was screened but it was for a selected audience.

The regular shows will start from September 30 when Vikram Vedha – Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan starrer movie will be screened. The people in Kashmir are excited to watch movies in cinemas and are waiting for September 30 when regular shows will start in theatres.

“There was a need for cinemas in Kashmir. When we have theatres in Jammu why can’t they have them in Kashmir? Why can’t Kashmiri youth have this entertainment facility? I hope people will support me in this endeavor,” Dhar said, who also owned one of the prominent schools in Kashmir. 

The family of Vijay Dhar, a resident of Srinagar, who currently runs the city’s Delhi Public School earlier, owned the Broadway Cinema in Srinagar. Like with other movie theatres in the city, the family had to close.

 “I still remember how Kashmiris would line up in large queues to get tickets to watch the movies. I hope Kashmiris will come in large numbers to watch the movies,” Dhar said.

The theatre would be adorned with traditional Kashmiri art especially with the ceilings being designed in the Khatamband patterns.

Madhu Ghori, a Kashmiri Pandit woman whose father owned Palladium Cinema in Srinagar (which is shut since 1990) calls it a great moment for all Kashmiris.

“My grandfather built the first cinema of Kashmir that is Palladium Cinema. He was a pioneer of cinemas in Kashmir. It is an emotional moment to see cinemas have started opening. We hope other cinemas will also open soon,” she told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).

Recalling the events before the 1990s, she said, “Kashmiris would love to watch movies in cinemas. Parents along with their children would watch movies. I am today emotional to see cinemas open in Kashmir. I hope we will again see like before 1990 times,” she added.

Bashir Ahmad Bhat, a 70-year-old resident of Srinagar recalls when he would watch movies daily in cinemas in youthful days before the 1990s.

“After returning from school, I along with two friends would go to Palladium or Shiraz cinema and watch movies there. But unfortunately, there is no entertainment for youth in today’s times. Seeing cinemas now opening, it is an emotional moment for us. We hope more cinemas are opened in coming weeks,” Bhat said, who is father of three children.

In the 1980s, nine of the Valley’s 15 operating movie theatres were located in Srinagar. Broadway, Regal, Neelam, Palladium, Firdaus, Shiraz, Khayam, Naaz, and Shah were the most well-known movie theatres in Srinagar. While some of them were transformed into hotels and even hospitals, the majority became camps for security forces deployed in the Valley.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said cinema lovers are everywhere in Kashmir and cinemas have a great history in the Valley. “There used to be a time when people in large numbers would come to watch movies along with friends and families. Cinemas would provide them opportunities to think big and dream big besides entertaining them,” the LG said.

He said in 1965, a Bollywood blockbuster of yesteryears, ‘Janwar’, starring famous Bollywood actor Shami Kapoor was screened at Broadway cinema. “Such was the love of Kappor for Kashmir that he had asked his family members to perform his last rites in Dal Lake, Srinagar,” the LG said. (KINS)

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