The Blog Only About Showbiz

‘OSO’ fails to bring people to cinemas in Kashmir

Posted by jahanzaibmemon on December 16, 2007

Srinagar (PTI): The Shahrukh Khan-starrer “Om Shanti Om” may be one of the biggest blockbuster this year, but the Bollywood film has failed to rake in the moolah in Kashmir, with the only functional cinema hall in the valley screening it for just one week.

It is not the lack of interest in Hindi films or the absence of a fan-following for ‘King Khan’ which is behind the film not making waves, but just that people here fear that a simple trip to the cinemas could very well cost them their lives — as was the case with four persons who were killed in a grenade attack on Regal cinema in 1998.

‘OSO’ was shown less than 10 times at Neelam cinema in the week it was released and managed a meagre Rs 38,000 from ticket sales.

The cinema owners, who obviously don’t run a very profitable business, persist with their trade, depending heavily on government subsidies.

While long queues were witnessed outside movie halls screening ‘OSO’ at other places, the ticket vendors at Neelam cinema had to wait for watchers — sometimes for hours.

On many occasions, the show had to be cancelled as not a single person turned up.

The hall, which once used to be packed to its 800-seating capacity, does not have much more than a score seats occupied during the show these days.

When militancy rocked the region in 1989, all forms of entertainment, including cinema, were the first to bear the brunt of a wave that sought to force people to shed their secular values and follow the Sharia or Islamic laws.

The state government in late-1990s was keen on projecting a picture of normalcy in the valley and offered subsidies to cinema-owners to make the halls functional once again.

But even government intervention could not save the cinema business, and most of the 15 movie theatres in the valley were eventually occupied by security forces.

Some, like ‘Heaven’ in Anantnag, ‘Samad Talkies’ in Sopore and ‘Shiraz’ and ‘Firdous’ here, continue to be occupied by them even after 18 years.

In the mid-1990s, a few halls like ‘Regal’, ‘Broadway’ and ‘Neelam’ started operations but the joy of movie-lovers was short-lived.

‘Neelam’ was soon targeted by militants, who hurled a grenade at the cinema hall.

Luckily, no movie-goers were injured. However, a grenade attack after a show at ‘Regal’ in 1998 left four persons dead and many others injured, after which the theatre stopped screening movies.

‘Broadway’, located outside the headquarters of the army’s 15 corps, was shut down in early 2005 by its owners, who cited unviable returns as the reason for the closure.

The hall, once considered the best in the state, started a bar for a brief period where local youth and army personnel enjoyed a drink in the evenings but it too was closed.

Now, the theatre has been dismantled and a hotel building has taken its place.

Another cinema hall ‘Khayam’ at Nowpora in downtown city, has been converted into a super-speciality hospital by its owners.

‘Neelam’ alone continues to operate, as it is located in a high-security zone in Karan Nagar next to the civil secretariat, the seat of the Jammu and Kashmir government.


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