The Valley is a goldmine, a treasure box, says Mahesh Bhatt

Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt on Friday described Kashmir as “a goldmine and a treasure” and said it was time to clear the misconception that the Valley was a troubled zone. He urged filmmakers to shoot more in the picturesque State, which reigned supreme till a bruising insurgency broke out in the late 1980s.

Kashmir was once Bollywood’s favourite shooting destination and the industry needed to return to the Valley, said Mr. Bhatt, actor Deepti Naval and Kashmir tourism director Talat Parvez at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Tourism Summit here.

“It is a monumental tragedy that we don’t think of going to Kashmir. We need to remove the misconception from people’s mind that it is a troubled zone. Kashmir is a goldmine, a treasure box and we don’t use it. Instead, we go abroad because of our misconceptions,” he said.

From Do Badan to Heena to Rocky, movies were shot in the picturesque Kashmir Valley. In the last few years, Shah Rukh Khan and the Ranbir Kapoor-Deepika Padukone pair shot for Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani here. Recently, Imtiaz Ali shot for his movie Highway in the Valley with Alia Bhatt and Randeep Hooda.

Tourism experts feel Bollywood can be instrumental in augmenting tourism in the State. Some parts of 3 Idiots were filmed in Ladakh, Mr. Parvez said. “After 3 Idiots, tourism in Kashmir tripled and people came to see Rancho’s school.” Pointing to Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh’s 1983 film Betaab, he said: “Such was the craze that after Betaab, an area near Pahalgam came to be known as the Betaab Valley.

The Valley was literally out of bounds for Bollywood for over two decades after separatist violence started there in the early 1990s. Mr. Parvez gave credit to Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 2000 release Mission Kashmir for the revival of shooting in the State.

Such was the power of the Valley that it drew veteran actor Deepti Naval all the way from New York to Mumbai to become an actress. “I was amazed by Kashmir’s beauty and wanted to become an actress so that I could shoot there. But the kind of films I did … none of them was shot there, barring a role in ‘Saudagar’,” she said.