Neelam Cinema (File Pic)

After a gap of about 30 years, Kashmir Valley is going to have a first cinema theatre soon, with Governor Satya Pal Malik giving a go ahead for the proposal.

As per sources privy to this development, Governor Malik has given his nod for the establishment of a cinema hall in state’s summer capital Srinagar. The process of bidding is likely to commence within days.

There are reports that the Governor has been expressing much interest in the opening of a cinema theatre in the Valley so that the youth who have no means of recreation could enjoy the latest Bollywood movies and spend quality time with peers.

“The process is likely to begun within days and for this purpose, many affluent people were called so that the idea of having a high tech cinema hall is discussed and deliberated upon in detail,” says an official.

He added that the Governor soon after assuming office in the state was exploring ways to provide means of entertainment to the Valley youth who have been reeling under the volatile times for years. For this purpose, besides a sport stadium of international level, cinema hall is coming in Kashmir after the gap of almost 30 years.

The cinema owners in Kashmir attempted to reopen theatres in 1999 when the then government offered them interest-free loans. There were three cinema halls which accepted the offer and attempted to re-open the halls. They later had to close down their businesses once again after the militants carried attacks.

On September 24, 1999, a grenade exploded outside one cinema hall located in the city centre, when the viewers were coming out after the maiden show. One person from Lasjan area namely Muhammad Hafeez Rather died and a dozen others were wounded. The theatres were abruptly shut again.

Before the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir, cinema halls were one of the big businesses in Kashmir valley. There were nine single screen cinemas in Srinagar. But at present most of them have either been converted into the forces garrisons or shopping malls. Some of the cinema halls like Sheeraz in the old city have been transformed into security camps. 

The Khayam is now a heart institute while the Naaz has been replaced by a mammoth shopping plaza. The skeleton of Palladium Theatre in historic Lal Chowk houses security bunkers. It served as a makeshift office for the police officers deployed in the area.

The present generation of Kashmiris has seen cinemas in the movies that too from the pirated DVDs and CDs available on the roadside pavements. Only the affluent people from Kashmir who could afford to travel outside Kashmir take kids to cinemas to show them how a movie theatre looks like.