Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurates an INOX multiplex theatre comprising three cinema auditoriums with a capacity of 520 seats, after more than 3 decades, in Srinagar on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. Image Credit: ANI

Srinagar: Silver screens lit up in Kashmir for the first time in a generation at the opening of a new cinema on Tuesday, decades after local movie halls were shuttered.

Most cinemas were shut down in 1989, with militant groups saying the Bollywood blockbuster screenings were avenues for cultural imperialism.

The theatres were later mostly occupied by security forces, who used them as detention and interrogation centres, with some still used by soldiers as staging posts.

Periodic attempts to revive cinema halls in Kashmir in the 1990s and later failed, with a heavy security presence deterring ordinary patrons.

Members of media and Jammu and Kashmir government officials wait to enter a multi-screen cinema hall run by India's leading multiplex chain Inox before its inauguration in Srinagar September 20, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Authorities have feted the new multiplex as the consequence of an improved security situation since New Delhi took steps to bolster its control of the territory.

Its opening was a symbol of a government commitment to “establishing peace” in the region, said Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, India’s top administrator in Kashmir.

“We are bringing back a lost era,” he said at a ceremony and screening marking the movie house’s opening in the city of Srinagar. It was attended mostly by government and security officials.

“The opening of this cinema reflects the changing picture of Kashmir.”

The new multiplex opens to the public next week and Sinha’s administration has pledged to support the opening of 10 more cinemas around the region.

“Young generations have a strong urge to see a better society, to learn about other cultures, to become part of inter-dependent world. And, it is the responsibility of the administration to provide them opportunities and support.

“The new cinema halls and ongoing film shootings will renew the beautiful bond between Jammu Kashmir and the Indian film industry. New film policy has been rolled out with special provisions and incentives for encouraging local youth to take up film as a career,” Sinha said.

“We are in talks with various stakeholders and have identified the land for developing Film City in the UT and the facility will come up in the UT soon.

“Under the guidance of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have accelerated the pace of implementation of numerous developmental initiatives.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha addresses the people at the inauguration of an INOX multiplex theatre comprising three cinema auditoriums with a capacity of 520 seats, after more than 3 decades, in Srinagar on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. Image Credit: ANI

“After August 2019, a new social order has been established in J&K which promotes inclusive development, social harmony and equitable access to resources for all citizens without any discrimination. J&K UT is today stronger and more self-confident than ever before,” he added.

Subhash Chandra, former Member Parliament and Chairman Essel Group, congratulated the J&K Government and everyone associated with the newly inaugurated multiplex.

He also lauded the administration for the transformation taking place in Kashmir, through opening of cinema halls, which has a great legacy of film-making and a massive film loving population.

Rajat Sharma, Editor-In-Chief and Chairman, India TV, said that cinema is the perfect medium to unite people. He appreciated the efforts of the Lt Governor and the administration for creating facilities to cater the needs of the Indian film industry and reviving a new-era of cinema in Kashmir.

Siddharth Jain, Executive Director, INOX Group, said the launch of the new multiplex theatre in Kashmir will make the region to be a part of country’s creative economy and contribute to strengthening the soft power of the country.