Srinagar- Over thirty years after militants shut down all the cinema halls across Kashmir, a prominent Kashmiri Pandit businessman is all set to unveil the Valley’s first-ever multiplex in the high-security zone of this capital city this autumn.
Vijay Dhar, the brainchild behind the project, had started construction work on the multiplex at Shivpora near Badami Bagh Cantonment, around two years ago. The multiplex designed by INOX, is slated to be ready by September.
Dhar also runs Delhi Public School (DPS) Srinagar, a prominent school in the city. His sons Vikas and Vishal are keenly working at the project, first of its kind in the Valley.
The multiplex has a seating capacity of at least 520 people and has three cinema halls. It has been beautifully designed and has the latest sound systems installed.
To maintain Kashmir’s art and design, wood-carved “khatambandh” has been used in the lobbies. The multiplex also has many food courts and other entertaining facilities to attract the children as well.
Dhar told Kashmir Observer that the idea behind the multiplex was to give some entertainment to the people of the Valley.
“For the last 30 years we have been deprived of this entertainment. If people of Jammu can have cinemas, why can’t we have it in Kashmir,” he said.
Dhar, who is also the owner of the now defunct Broadway cinema hall, told Kashmir Observer that the people of Kashmir are fond of cinemas and they will support them to flourish it.
“People have supported me in establishing the best school (DPS) here in Srinagar. I am sure they will support me in this project as well,” Dhar added.
When asked about the uncertain situation in the Valley, Dhar said that if they think of the situation, then people won’t be able to do anything.
Dhar said the multiplex is a token of honour to the great Bollywood actors like Raj Kapoor who came to Kashmir and shot the movie—-Barsaat.
“Then a number of actors came here for shooting. I think over 30 percent of the shooting of the classic films were shot in Kashmir,” he said.
Before the armed militancy erupted in the valley, a number of classic movies were shot in places like Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Srinagar. However post-militancy, a number of cinemas were tracked by the militants and they remained shut till date.
A number of these cinemas halls have been occupied by the paramilitary troops.
Dhar said that the multiplex will have three big screens out of which two will be operational in September while the third will be opened in October.
He further said, the multiplex will have all the facilities available and will be open for anyone.
All cinema halls were closed down in the Valley when insurgency broke out in year 1989. Some of the theatres that remained shut in Srinagar included Regal, Palladium, Khayam, Firdous, Neelam, Shiraz, Khayam, Broadway and Shah Cinema.
The government made several attempts to re-open the cinemas in the valley, but failed to do so owing to the situation.
Sources said the idea of allowing construction of multiplexes on proprietary land in Kashmir had come up during the rule of former J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik.
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