Started with an intention to review the valley’s defunct theatre culture, an engineer turned businessman Sheikh Raashid is attracting crowds to Kashmir’s first 7D theatre, Syed Asma reports.
Raashid talks casually about it, but his investment worth lakhs has made Kashmir the only place in North India to own a 7 D theatre. After Kolkata and Chennai, it is the third in India. 7 D theatres were introduced almost a decade back by a New York-based production house Universal studios through their famous science fiction ‘Jurassic Park’.
An engineer by academic qualification, Sheikh Raashid always wanted to be a businessman, he says. An unconventional thought in the family where everyone is either a practising doctor or a professional engineer Sheikh had to face many hardships to reach the place where he is today. He has done his engineering from Bangalore and after coming back to Kashmir in 1996 started investing in IT sector. Later in 2003, he switched over to telecommunication and got associated with Bharti Airtel.
Presently, in his early forties, he is among the leading distributors of Bharti Airtel in the Valley, owner of a restaurant in Rajbagh and owner of a gaming arcade at Zabarwan, Boulevard road. This 7D theatre is a part of the gaming arcade in Zabarawan, he says. The gaming arcade was started in 2004 and Sheikh believes he is the first one to introduce this in Kashmir.
By investing in a gaming arcade and by owning a 7D theatre, he wants to boost the tourism industry of the Valley. “I want to make it a complete tourist destination. Natural beauty may attract people during the day but what about evenings?” asks Sheikh. “Gaming arcades and theatres like these can keep them busy in evenings and trust me it is a very entertaining thing especially for kids,” he says.
The idea of introducing a 7 D theatre in Kashmir stuck Sheikh in Singapore in 2008 when he was there with his family on a tour. “My kids really enjoyed it and almost got addicted to it. I thought of introducing it in Kashmir as well, as it offers a different entertainment which we are not used to.”
“The best part about this theatre is that it is enjoyed by all ages equally.”
In this theatre, at one time, only 8 people can watch the movie. The seats move as per the moving picture – upright, downward, left and right directions. “The number of seats is usually less in these theatres as you need to move them in different directions. Besides, you get a real feel of snowfall, rainfall, sunlight or any other activity happening in the movie.”
These movies are shot by at least 4 cameras and showcased on 4 projectors unlike in normal cinema where a single projector is used. These theatres showcase movies specially made for 7D. Presently only Universal studios are able to make such kind of movies. The movies last for 5 to 15 minutes and one has to pay Rs 300 per person.
So far 7D movies like “Earthquake”, “Haunted House”, “Gold Mine” and “Journey to the Centre” have been showcased in the theatre at Zabarwan.
Sheikh has started the project along with the state’s tourism department and was inaugurated by Talat Parvez, the Director of the department in May this year. All the equipment of the theatre is imported from Singapore and it took Sheikh one and a half month to install the machines and execute the whole plan.
It has been three months since it’s inaugurated and Sheikh seems contended with the inflow of people visiting the theatre. “It mostly has been tourists but I am happy. We in Kashmir take a lot of time to get adapted to a new thing and I am quite prepared for it. Locals too are coming and the influx is increasing with each passing day,” says Sheikh.
Sheikh says apart from making Kashmir a complete tourist destination, he wants to revive the entertainment industry for entertainment buffs in Kashmir. “It has been more than two decades that cinemas have been closed in Kashmir. I wanted to revive it in a different style,” says Sheikh.
Presently, Sheikh is working on making 7-D theatre a success and says in near future he would be coming up with an amusement park of international standards. “Kashmir has a huge tourist potential and to attract more people we should keep on trying new things.”