Srinagar: Aaqib Bhat is eagerly waiting for the opening of the first multiplex of Kashmir in the Sonawar area of the city, which he says will put an end to his regular visits outside the valley to watch Bollywood movies on the big screen.
”I travel once every three to four months to Delhi or Jammu to watch the latest Hindi movies on the big screen. Although all the movies are available on various platforms within no time, the feel and experience of watching it on a big screen is unmatched,” Bhat told PTI.
The 30-year-old said ever since noted businessman Vijay Dhar announced his project for opening the first multiplex in Kashmir, he has been keeping a track of the development. ”I think the wait is finally over!” he said.
Dhar, who also owns a reputed private school here, said the multiplex will be thrown open to the public on Tuesday with a special screening of Aamir Khan-starrer Lal Singh Chaddha’.
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”Regular shows will start from September 30 with the screening of Vikram Vedha, starring Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan,” Dhar said.
The first multiplex in Kashmir will have three movie theatres with a total capacity of 520 seats. The premises will also have a food court aimed at promoting local cuisine.
Bhat, who is in the handicrafts business, said he travels regularly to places outside Kashmir mostly related to his work. ”Many a time the line between business and pleasure, which for me is watching movies in a theatre, would blur. Now on, I will be travelling purely for business,” he said with a sheepish smile. The scheduled opening of the multiplex, which will be operated by INOX, comes close on the heels of Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurating multipurpose cinema halls — one each in the twin Pulwama and Shopian districts.
The cinema halls have reopened in the valley after three decades as theatre owners downed their shutters in the Valley due to threats and attacks by militants in 1989-90.
Sinha described the occasion as ”historic” saying ”we will build such multipurpose cinema halls in every district of Jammu and Kashmir soon”.
He said cinema halls in Anantnag, Srinagar, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Kishtwar, and Reasi will be inaugurated soon.
Asked if the government wanted to send out a message by building such cinema halls, the LG said, ”There is no message.” ”Cinema is a powerful creative medium that reflects the culture, values, and aspirations of the people. It opens the door to the world of knowledge, new discoveries and enables people to get a better understanding of each other’s culture,” Sinha said.
The Valley had seen nearly a dozen stand-alone cinema halls functioning till the late 1980s, but they had to wind up businesses after two militant outfits threatened the owners.
Though authorities made attempts to reopen some of the theatres in the late 1990s, militants thwarted such efforts by carrying out a deadly grenade attack on Regal Cinema in the heart of Lal Chowk in September 1999.
Two other theatres — Neelam and Broadway — had opened their doors but had to shut business due to poor response.
Jammu and Kashmir have a long association with the world of cinema. The new film policy and facilities created has once again made the Union Territory the favorite shooting destination and have brought back the golden era of film-making here, the LG said.