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Winter of despair for Kashmir’s line producers, artists

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As snowfall continues to elude the picturesque valley of Kashmir, local line producers and others associated with the Indian film industry are in a state of despair as shooting requests are drying up due to a snowless winter.

The mighty mountains of Pir Panjal region, which are draped in a thick white blanket of snow during this time of the season, are bare, highlighting the climatic changes gradually sweeping the Himalayan region.

“The dry spell in Kashmir has significantly impacted us. We’ve three projects lined up but they hang in balance. If snowfall doesn’t occur, these projects may either get cancelled, postponed, or relocated to places with snow. Snow holds immense importance for Kashmir, and we are fervently praying and hoping for it,” Abid Hussain, casting manager at KG Production, told PTI.

The snowless winter and the extended dry spell, Hussain said, have even led some people associated with the industry to experience depression due to a lack of work. He said the people associated with the film industry in Mumbai are also eagerly awaiting the snowfall in Kashmir to commence film shootings.

“Kashmir’s fame is intricately linked to snow, and there’s a substantial adverse effect on line producers this time due to the absence of snow,” he added.

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Bismah Masoodi, a Line Producer, said some scheduled shoots have already been postponed due to the lack of snow in the valley. However, she expressed optimism that once snowfall occurs; filmmakers will travel to Kashmir for shooting.

“Our projects require meticulous planning, and we are optimistic that snowfall will happen, allowing filmmakers to come for shoots and enabling us to continue our work,” she said.

Bismah, who has worked with famous celebrities like Karan Kundra, Amaan Malik, and others and has contributed to various ad films and biopics, said the dry spell not only stalls movie shootings but also hits locals offering catering services, transportation, and hotels as well.

“The entire Kashmir region suffers due to this extended dry spell. The absence of snowfall has adversely affected our work, but we remain hopeful for snowfall to fulfill the plans of filmmakers visiting and shooting in Kashmir,” she added.

Mir Sarwar, a popular filmmaker and actor from Kashmir, is also concerned with the unusual weather pattern as the valley is witnessing warm days in the harshest 40-day period of winter, locally called Chilai Kallan.

“I had plans for a short film requiring snow, but the dry conditions prevail. Nature will be a factor, but human responsibility for climate change can’t be ignored. Kashmir’s aura is synonymous with snow, attracting numerous filmmakers and tourists. Despite several projects being delayed, I believe some are exploring alternatives like Himachal,” he said.

Bhawani Bashir Yasir, who played roles in movies like Haider, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Kesari, and Jehad, said snowfall is important for many tourist activities.

“There is a huge impact of climate change in Kashmir, primarily affecting the economy and various professions, including the tourism industry. Film shootings in Kashmir benefit not only actors but also other sectors like transporters and hoteliers. When shootings are cancelled, the entire system is crippled,” he said.

Despite no snowfall and the persistent cold weather conditions, there is a glimmer of hope within the people associated with the valley’s tourism sector, including the hoteliers.

Though Kashmir’s main winter tourist attractions like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Pahalgam have been left without snow this season, the tourism players are optimistic that the falling snowflakes will draw a large number of tourists from India and abroad.

“The absence of snow does impact business but compared to last year, we are performing well. Tourists are visiting, albeit with some disappointment due to the lack of snow. However, looking at the positive side, it provides them a reason to return. “Some scheduled shootings have been postponed, not necessarily cancelled, as filmmakers often adjust their schedules based on the landscape and snow conditions. We remain hopeful that they will return,” said Asif Iqbal Burza, a prominent hotelier. Last year, he said, Pahalgam was a prime location for film shootings, witnessing back-to-back big-budget films from mid-January to March.

“This year, we are in talks with many production houses, and once snowfall begins, they plan to shoot accordingly,” Burza said.

 

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