Breaking Tradition

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Khawar Jamsheed is the only line-producer from the valley who has tirelessly worked with Bollywood directors to bring them back to the scenic landscapes of Kashmir. SANA FAZILI traces his journey and his vision for filmmaking in Kashmir.

Sharukh Khan with Khawar Jamsheed

Sharukh Khan with Khawar Jamsheed

A bachelor in Information Technology, Khawar Jamsheed is the only line producer from Kashmir who has worked in Bollywood. His career took off when he worked in Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar movie in 2010 as a line producer. Since then, he has been associated with Dharma Productions and Yash Raj Productions.

It started in 2010 when Jamsheed, 28, got a call from Ali, who happens to be his relative. A dynamic director, who has movies like ‘Jab We Met’ and ‘Love Aaj Kal’ in his name, Ali wanted to shoot a part of Rockstar in Kashmir. “Imtiaz bhai called me and gave me the story board. He asked for appropriate locations and I sent him the pictures of Dal Lake and Pahalgam. He approved the locations.” says Khawar, sporting a leather jacket and cargo jeans.

The shoot of Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri starrer Rockstar was a success with sequences shot in Pahalgam, Dal Lake and Boulevard and an old resort in Nishat. After an incident-free shoot, a dedicated Jamsheed started getting calls from other production houses and he successfully convinced them to shoot in Kashmir.

‘Student of the Year’ and the most recent ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ are the other movies which were shot in Kashmir with Khawar Jamsheed as a line producer. As a line producer, he has to provide location for shooting and look after arrangements for the crew as long as they stay in Kashmir.

“The landscapes are varied in Kashmir. At a single location, different camera angles provide different shots each time. This tempts the film producers to come to this place. No other place has such a vivid potential,” Jamsheed says with confidence.

With the rejuvenation of shooting by Bollywood directors in Kashmir, Jamsheed is optimistic that it will offer economic opportunities to Kashmiris. “If a film maker invests Rs 1 crore for shooting in Kashmir, the whole amount goes to Kashmiris as there is no middleman or tout between the two,” he claims. Getting more Bollywood directors would be financially beneficial to the Kashmiri people, he says.

Jamsheed, who has worked as an Army contractor, says Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Dal Lake are the choicest locations for Bollywood directors though, he says, some places in north Kashmir have a huge potential landscape. Khawar attributes the choice of filmmakers to the unavailability of facilities to accommodate a crew of 200 people for night stays at far flung areas.

“Gurez is the most beautiful place in Kashmir. Because it is under the Army, getting the permission for shooting becomes cumbersome. And since the facilities are not proper, it also repels film makers to make that choice.” Jamsheed says.

Khawar, who has studied at Tyndale Biscoe School, says film making is an exciting job since the pressure keeps mounting and a minute lost with the arrangements can get one fired from the crew. “One has to work day in and day out with the crew. Taking care of boarding, lodging and catering along with locations requires proper handling. One loses track of time. You don’t get time to sleep properly and you don’t have time to eat. But it is worth it. When the crew leaves, it seems as if life has come to a stop and there is nothing left to do in life.” he says.

Taking a keen interest to nurture the local talent, Khawar has taken up various projects like shooting ad films and short movies. He is planning to make more short films. “It is not about shooting location only. We can promote our culture and art. Tourist spots also get nominated. Betaab valley in Pahalgam owes its name to the movie ‘Betaab’ which was shot there. People still go to see ‘Bobby Hut’ in Gulmarg because a part of movie ‘Bobby’ was shot there,” Khawar says.

The young, energetic Jamsheed is of the opinion that Kashmiris need to reach out to the international audience to make their stories heard, “That is possible only through films; either of the short format or the regular ones. Visuals add more appeal to the story,” he says. Khawar also wants to remove the wrong conceptions associated with film making, “The young generation must be able to tell their stories more strongly and reveal to the world what is hidden from them,” he says.

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