Renowned filmmaker Imtiaz Ali, who is known for some of the most intensive and path-breaking productions, was in Jammu earlier in the week on invitation of the government, particularly the department of Tourism and Culture. Secretary Sarmad Hafeez said invitation to Ali was among the initiatives of the government to make a mark of Jammu and Kashmir’s creativity in entertainment, theatre, culture, art, crafts and literature. Ali comes from the entertainment industry and is best known for his films like ‘Jab We Met’, ‘Rockstar, Highway’ and ‘Tamasha’ among others. Before making a mark in film industry, Ali was already a big name in the theatre with shows like Imtehaan, Naina and Kurukshetra to his credit. It was very good to see a conversation happening in the town which focused on organized efforts on getting young creative talent to the film industry. Jammu and Kashmir’s relationship with film industry has been of great significance across the decades but a big mark like people of Bihar have made couldn’t become a reality despite existence of talent which Mr Ali and Mr Hafeez have talked about. About a century ago, a young girl from Jammu, known by her sobriquet Gulab, made a big mark in Indian film industry with her work in Urdu, Hindu, English and Indian languages cinema. Gulab worked in over 30 films before 1940. From Om Praksh and KL Sehgal to Zara Waseem, Sana Fatima and Vidyut Jamwal, Jammu and Kashmir produced hundreds of artists who made a name in the film industry. The scenic beauty, particularly of the Kashmir Valley, has attracted the industry back for affordable locales. Despite these remarkable contributions and associations, Jammu and Kashmir has not a place that comes to mind when you think of films. There are two chief reasons. firstly, the scenic beauty alone will not help for long time if there are no resources and infrastructures. Attracting entertainment industry to Jammu and Kashmir has always been a favourite project of every regime but if the present government wants to make a mark, they will have to move beyond symbolism. Secondly, the local talent can make a major mark in the entertainment sector only when the projects carries along the local culture, languages and art. We have heard with interest that Imtiaz Ali claims to be in awe of the culture, art and talent found among the artists of Jammu and Kashmir. He believes that cultural richness of this region is so deep that it will make many initiatives to showcase the full potential. Ali is also reported to have expressed that he is back to carry out the work that is exclusively native using native talent, artists, music and musical instruments. This is the only way to make a relationship of mutual interest. Secretary Sarmad made two significant statements. He said engaging in films would be a “greatest confidence booster for our youth who can get carried away towards other socially evil forces in absence of such an environment here”. This is an approach we don’t approve of. There is a history of failed efforts when sporting to competing for civil services as presented as a counter to militancy and separatism, and such projects haven’t worked. The other statement of Sarmad, that “art can bring best out of them and the platform we propose to give them would be national one”, carries the value that young people look forward to.
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