Scrapping Article 370: Shooting of movies in Kashmir on hold

Tovino Thomas-starrer Edakkad Battalion and Kilometers & Kilometers were shot in Kashmir

Little did Tovino Thomas and his team knew that 'Edakkad Battalion 06' will probably be the last scheduled Malayalam film to have shot in the state Jammu and Kashmir. The movie directed by debutante Swapnesh K Nair, in it's final schedule was shot around Leh city in Ladakh. 

Now, two weeks since Edakkad Battalion have wrapped up shoot, Article 370 has been repealed and many movies which were scheduled to shoot in Kashmir has been put on hold for now.

This includes movies of several top actors including Sanjay Dutt, Alia Bhatt and Sidharth Malhotra.

Kashmir's enchanting landscape has always attracted filmmakers. Reportedly, the permission granted by the state’s tourism department for shooting films and TV productions in Kashmir during the last three years went up from 29 in 2016 to 75 in 2018. This year so far, the department had granted permission to 19 projects from various production houses.

Interestingly, two movies of Malayalam actor Tovino Thomas was shot in Kashmir. Apart from Edakkad Battalion,Kilometers and Kilometers is yet another film that was shot in the state. Directed by Jeo Baby, Kilometers and Kilometers is a travel film which has him travelling from Kerala to Ladakh. According to a close source, Tovino has finished the shoot of the movie and the film is currently in the post-production stage.

Kannada movies ElliddheilliThanaka, Gara, Hyper; Tamil film SarvamThallaMayam, Kaatru Veliyidai; Telugu movie SrirasthuSubhamasthu, Oriyo romance, Diwanahele To Pain were the recent lucky films to have been shot in Kashmir.

Unfortunately, the abrogation of the Article has had a ripple effect on the shooting schedules of upcoming movies.

Sidharth Malhotra was supposed to shoot for Captain Vikram Batra's biopic 'Shershaah' in the Valley. Directed by Vishnu Varadhan from a story written by Sandeep Srivastava, the movie is backed by Karan Johar's Dharma Productions. According to a source close to the actor, the shooting schedule has been pushed, with no new date given yet.

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Sadak 2 makers had plans to shoot an important segment of the film with Sanjay, Alia and Makarand Deshpande, who essays role of a godman in the movie. The film marks the return of Mahesh Bhatt as director, and the filmmaker had planned to shoot sequences pertaining to the protagonists reaching the godman's ashram. The shooting is on hold for now.

IANS messaged Mahesh and Makarand for an update. The query wasn't answered till the time of going to press.

Line producer Md. Abdullah of Hami Asto Productions, who arranges shoots in the Jammu and Kashmir regions, said that two to three Bollywood films and one big Telugu movie were slated to arrive over the next few months for shooting.

"There were some big projects in line -- two to three Bollywood films and one Telugu movie. Now, we can't say if that will happen because of the disturbed environment. Maybe they will push the schedule or maybe they will go to a different location," Abdullah told IANS. "We just wrapped up shoot of the Telugu film 'Venky Mama', which stars Venkatesh. They shot in Pahalgam and Sonmarg. The month-long shot was wrapped up in June. One big Bollywood film was supposed to start shooting in August-end. They all are stuck now," added Abdullah, who is worried about what the future holds for local line producers like him. "Yeh achanak se hua (this happened all of a sudden). Now, it has been done. Inshallah, things will get settled soon. If that doesn't happen, it will be a big problem for us because this is our 'rozi-roti' (bread and butter)," added the line producer, who has worked on John Abraham's Romeo Akbar Walter, Abhishek Bachchan's Manmarziyaan and Arjun Rampal's Final Call in the past.

bajrangi bhaijaan
A still from 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' which was predominantly shot in Kashmir

The production houses might have to bear additional expenses owing to the shuffle of the schedule, although the amounts will probably not be exorbitant.

"There is some unrest and confusion going on in Jammu and Kashmir. The government has taken measures. So, all the planned shoots in the region will be delayed for a while. It will not have much negative impact in terms of cost escalation, because productions of these films were yet to start," film and trade expert Girish Johar told IANS.

"Cost would have been a problem had they started shooting in Kashmir, and were forced to come back. Now, there will be a nominal increase in the cost," Johar added.

On Monday morning, Home Minister Amit Shah announced in Rajya Sabha that the government has decided to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The government also announced its decision to split the region into that two Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be without a legislature.