“Bollywood has started to explore Kashmir all over again”

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Famous for his creative ads like VISA debit card and Google reunion, Bollywood filmmaker Amit Sharma, tells Insha  Mir that hopefully, one day I’ll make a film where I can portray Kashmir for what it is – a beautiful and culturally rich land.

Amit-Sharma-Bollywood-DirectorKashmir Life (KL): What was the first thing that came to your mind when you decided to shot VISA ad film in Kashmir?

Amit Sharma (AS): My major concern about shooting in Kashmir was safety. I was not sure, given the situation in Kashmir, if it would be a good decision to consider Kashmir as a location for my films. But I am glad I finally decided to shoot Visa there because I realized how wrong I was.  Not only does Kashmir have beautiful locations but the people there too are beautiful. And the support I received from them made me realize that Kashmir is absolutely safe as well.

KL: You have been regularly visiting Kashmir since then. Right?

AS: Yes. Every chance I get, I visit Kashmir.

KL: You were here to shot some of the upcoming ads. Is Kashmir emerging as a new ad destination?

AS: I was the first director to shoot in Kashmir after nearly 20 years. And I shot Visa around 4 years back. Between that time and now, I definitely think it has become one of the most sought after destinations for shooting.  If we are to show any beautiful, breathtaking vistas in any of our films, Kashmir is usually the first location we consider.

KL: Unlike Bollywood’s love for foreign locations, you chose locations that are rooted and rich in culture. Don’t you think Kashmir, with its rich cultural heritage, has the potential to be Bollywood’s local film destination once again?

AS: I think it already is. To see the beauty of a place in its true form it is important to capture its natural as well as its cultural beauty. And Kashmir has both in abundance. And I think Bollywood now has started exploring and rediscovering Kashmir all over again.

KL: Your VISA ad film was one minute long. Don’t you think that a place like Kashmir demands longer space on screen?

AS: The duration of the film entirely depends on the script and the subject. Visa film was, in fact, 2 minutes long. Kashmir, for me, is just endless and immensely beautiful. If given a chance, I would shoot all my films there. But like I said, in the end it all depends on the subject and the script we are working on.

KL: What kind of infrastructure and incentives are needed to make Kashmir a favoured shooting destination for people like you?

AS: For feature films where they have more people in their crew, I suggest having more hotels especially in the interiors of Kashmir. This will definitely be a huge plus point. From a production point of view, availability of basic and widely used film equipments (Lights, trolleys, jimmy jibs etc.) will greatly reduce the production cost which in turn will make it a more favorable location. So I believe being technically sound is something that Kashmir should definitely try to aim at.

KL: Please tell us about your other engagements in Kashmir apart from shooting? You want to understand Kashmiri youth and their concerns. What impressions do you have now?

AS: Ok. This I will say from my own personal experience. I have shot in almost all parts of this country and I find Kashmiris to be extremely hard working, well mannered, hospitable, respectful and not to mention beautiful. I will say the same for the Kashmiri youth as well. In my visit to Kashmir, I stayed back in Kashmir for 4 days after the shoot where I got a chance to interact with the youth. I found them to be extremely intelligent and smart. They also had strong opinions on social issues that currently trouble Kashmir. I think that is very commendable. Sadly, because of my busy schedule I have never had the chance to visit Kashmir except for shoots. In fact, I would love to have my own home in Kashmir one day.

KL: You have worked with local actors during VISA ad film. What do you think is needed to nurture this raw talent?

AS: One of the reasons why the Visa film turned out so beautiful was because we were able to capture the essence of the place through the people who belong to that place. The Kashmiri faces along with the authentic accents just added to it. The cast was just exceptional in the film. I believe having more local theatre groups is essential for the actors to continuously hone their skills. Conducting plays and shows for the audience will encourage the actors and also help them shed away their inhibitions. Also, I think we should have more casting directors who understand acting, performance and emotions thoroughly so that when they cast, they can easily identify the actors suitable for specific characters depending on the subject and story.

KL: We all grew up watching movies shot in Kashmir. Right. Which one is your favourite and why?

AS: Kashmir ki Kali. The name itself has Kashmir in it! And I think the way Kashmir was captured in the film was just remarkable. The film didn’t just showcase the beautiful landscapes but also explored its culture.

KL: Since Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider, Bollywood’s lost connection is restored with Kashmir, though partially. Do you have any plan to make a film on Kashmir?   

AS: Like I mentioned before, it all depends upon the subject and the script. But, as a filmmaker, I personally think that sometimes you fall in love with a place so much that instead of letting the story decide the place, you let that place tell you a story. Kashmir is definitely one such place. Hopefully, one day I’ll make a film where I can portray Kashmir for what it is – a beautiful and culturally rich land.

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