Srinagar to have first ever Multiplex three decades after closure of all city cinema halls
Almost three decades after all the cinema halls in Srinagar were shut down, a two-storeyed multiplex which is within a five-storey commercial complex in Srinagar has received a green signal to screen films this month and is expected to begin operations by next March.
As disclosed by Vijay Dhar of the Taksal group, also the owner of the now-defunct Broadway cinema hall to ‘The Hindu’, their company had got the NOC for running a multiplex theatre, and it was an attempt to address the youth of the Valley. He said that the former Governor Satya Pal Malik had told him that there should be cinemas and entertainment centres for the youth in Srinagar and there was an acute lack of these facilities. ‘It started there’, he added.
Son of the prominent Kashmiri Politician DP Dhar considered one of the chief architects of the Indian intervention in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, Vijay Dhar is a resident of Srinagar and runs the Delhi Public School in the city. His family owned Broadway, that, along with many other cinema halls in Srinagar was shut down after continuous threats from terrorists.
A two-storeyed multiplex has received the go-ahead to screen films, likely to start operations by next March, however, security still an issue but more for the government to think about, said Vijay Dhar to The Hindu
The multiplex is to come up at Sonwar on land owned by Vijay Dhar and his sons, Vikas and Vishal Dhar. As per reports, it opened briefly in the mid-90s but was closed soon again. Meanwhile, Security issue is still a concern having a number of operations being conducted by the security forces on regular basis to wipe out terror outfits active in the region.
Vijay Dhar, however, said that it is an issue, but more for the government to think about. He added that “I feel that since the 1990s we haven’t done anything to address the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. There is a major change in terms of what they are exposed to in the world and what other young people have access to, we must consider that. A short time ago, at DPS we had held a music festival, Shireen, inviting 180 schools, the finale was attended by 9,000 people, in a city like Srinagar. So, there is definitely a desire for music, cinema, the arts and sports,” he concluded.
During 90s many of the cinema halls were converted to camps for the paramilitary troops and still continue to serve the same purpose. Although, a single screen theatre named Neelam cinema till the early 2000s ran films periodically.
According to a partner in the company that owns Neelam cinema, Altaf Ahmad, his family had tried to run the cinema again in 1999 but it ran only for 1-1.5 years so they shut it down too, as he told The Hindu. He said that prospects of a cinema working again in Srinagar faced the same challenges that theatres did across the world, which was the rise of the streaming channels and OTT platforms, however, there will be a novelty value to the big screen in Srinagar again, he added.
Although the security issues will still be a prime concern for the city set to present big screens to the people who have for long stayed away from the privilege considering continuous security threats and insurgency given out to the multiplex owners but the return of cinema halls to Srinagar, sure would be a welcoming and significant move towards absolute normalcy.