Jammu & Kashmir is one of the biggest provinces of India, but its film industry is one of the smallest. The province of Jammu & Kashmir has three different regions : Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir Valley. They have three different languages also : Dogri in Jammu, Ladakhi in Ladakh and Kashmiri in Kashmir Valley.
Dogri Cinema :
Jammu is the smallest region of the state, so Dogri films have smaller and minuscule presence. Cinema came to India in 1913 and the first talkie “ Alamara ” was made in 1931. But the first Dogri film “ Gallan Hoyian Beetiyan ” was made in 1966. Dogri Cinema’s advent in the state of Jammu & Kashmir was delayed by 35 years. It is very surprising because the first singing star of Hindi films, legendary Kundan Lal Sahgal, hailed from Jammu. But Jammu lacked behind in film making and even today not many films are made in Dogri.
My relationship with Dogri films are very modest. Shettal Sharma is the only student from Jammu, whom I have trained. She is trying to get a foothold in the industry.
Ladakhi Cinema :
Ladakh is the biggest district of not only Jammu & Kashmir but the country also. It is sparsely populated and barring Leh, it has no city worth the name. Leh has just one cinema hall. But cinema has taken strong and deep routes here. Ladakh has world’s youngest film industry. Cinema started here in 2002. It is 7 years and 26 films old film industry. “ Ladakh Vision Group ” is the most reputed and respected production house of Ladakh. Rinchen Norbu, who sells Chinese jackets in his road side stall to eke out a living, is the famous leading man. Zulfiquar Ali Shah is the most sought after villain and Stanzin Namdol is the most salable leading actress. Tsering Norzum, who works as a police constable, is the famous item girl of Ladakhi films. Budget of films are in the range of 1 to 5 lakhs.
“ Tsesems ” the first Ladakhi film made and released in 2002 has Rinchen Norbu as leading man and Zulfiquar Ali Shah as villain. It created history. “ Delwa ” made in 2005 has Stanzin Namdol as heroine. “ Las Del ” released in July 2009 is the latest and the most expensive Ladakhi film till date. It has Stanzin Namdol as heroine and its budget is 15 lakhs. Ladakh region makes 6 films per year.
In my earlier blog about South Indian Film Industry - “ The Deccan Odyssey : Tamil , Telugu, Kannada film industry & Me ”, I have mentioned that I have no association with the Malayalam film industry till now. It is very unfortunate that my association with Ladakhi film industry is non-existent too. Malayalam film industry in southern most Kerala and Ladakhi film industry in northernmost Jammu & Kashmir are still out of my reach and I regret it deeply and profusely. It reminds me that I still don’t have complete sway as a trainer. I am yet to achieve and accomplish my goal. It reminds me that I have to work much more and much harder. I can’t be complacent.
Kashmiri Cinema :
The most important region of the state, Kashmir valley, has almost a non-existent film industry. It has produced only 6 films till date. First Kashmiri film “ Naeej Raath ” was released in 1964. It was 33 years after first Hindi talkie “ Alamara ” and 2 years before the first Dogri film “ Gallan Hoyean Beetiyan ”. Ladakhi film industry started in 2002, churns out 6 films every year, while Kashmiri film industry has made only 6 film till date, though it started in 1964. After “ Naeej Rath ”, “ Habba Khatoon ” in 1967 and “ Mehanzaraat ” in 1969 are other important Kashmiri films. Costliest Kashmiri film till date “ Akh Daleel Loolech ” was made in 2006 and its budget was 8 lakhs. Now after a long hiatus an NRI of Kashmiri origin Tariq Tapa is making a new film called “ Zero Bridge ”. Kashmir valley once had 8 cinema halls. Out of these 4 have been closed and converted into army bunkers. Remaining 4 were forced to down shutters as they have no patrons at all. This is the plight of film industry in Jammu & Kashmir.
I can state with pride and satisfaction that I have trained many students of Kashmiri origin. Though they are not working in Kashmiri films; firstly – because it is non-existent and secondly – because of the prevailing circumstances of the valley, but their presence is being felt in the national arena.
Ferena Wazeir : She is making her debut in “ Sadiyaan ” with Mr. Shatrughan Sinha’s son Luv Sinha. She hails from Jammu & Kashmir and she is my first student from the valley. The film directed by Mr. Raj Kanwar is being readied for an early release. Her other film “ Rang Rasiya ”, directed by Mr. Ketan Mehta is also complete.
Ishtyaq Syed : He came in TV serial “ Kyunki Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai ”, aired on DD. He is another Kashmiri speaking student of mine. His father is a politician, active in Congress.
Mudassir Nazar, Zuhaib Khan and Muheet Syed are another bunch of talented Kashmiri youth, who have been trained by me and who are trying to find foothold in Hindi film industry. Muheet’s father is also a politician, active in National Conference.
I have trained Hindi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Sindhi, Marathi, Konkani, Gujrati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Oriya, Assamiya, Nepali and Manipuri speaking students. I have trained students from Sikkim and Meghalaya also. Its very satisfying that apart from them, I have trained Dogri and Kashmiri speaking students also. All these students are working in their respective film industries and are making me proud.
These above mentioned Kashmiri youngsters from the troubled region Of our country are silent assurance that everything is not lost in the state. Very soon everything will be normal and cinema will thrive there once again. Kashmir valley, which was once upon a time backdrop of many Hindi films, cannot remain dormant. Younger generation of the valley bring hope. They are the future of kashmiri cinema. They are blooming Kong Poush ( Saffron Flowers ) and their beauty and fragrance will sure make our industry rich and colourful.