Few years back the Kashmir World Film Festival (KWFF) rekindled the hope that cinema may make a comeback in Valley. Cinema theatres or houses have remained closed since 1990 when terrorism broke out in Kashmir Valley. Government has batted for reopening of these closed cinemas with then Minister for Works in the defunct PDP-BJP coalition Naeem Akhtar advocated that children should not be devoid of genuine entertainment. Irony is Pakistan who pulls the terrorism string in Valley along with Saudi Arabia has a flourishing film making industry and has revived its cinema halls but Valley has remained devoid of this part of entertainment. How naïve are the advocates of this theory in the age of information technology, high-end mobiles, cable and television where videos and pictures are available within the reach at the press of a button. Kashmir has been the favourite location for the Bollywood and some of the all time romance and musical numbers were shot in Valley. In 1999 when erstwhile Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah tried to reopen three cinema halls namely Regal, Neelam and Broadway, the terrorists hurled grenades at the cinema halls. In spite of the tight security, the state couldn’t run the cinema halls. Even the last political government of PDP-BJP had affirmed that State government will take necessary steps to reopen all cinema halls across the valley. This no doubt was a wonderful news as far as mass entertainment was concerned, but also a case of practising one’s rights. Because of the closure of cinema houses Valley spectators remained devoid of Kashmir’s daughter Zaira Wasim who made her debut with her stupendous acting in both Dangal and Secret Superstar. But people in the valley were not lucky enough to see those films. Some of them who have managed, have mostly seen through pirated CDs and cassettes. There is no denying the fact that fundamentalist forces in Jammu & Kashmir are dead against any sort of entertainment as they consider them to be ‘unIslamic’. Thus reopening cinema halls will give the much-needed breathing space to the residents of the Valley and can bring the much needed solace from the every-day strife.
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