In a world with expanding internet penetration and increased access to preferred TV channels, the culture of movie-watching has been taken to the next level.
Kashmir is not isolated from this phenomenon playing out elsewhere across the globe. Every day, movies requiring data in trillions of Megabytes are downloaded using services of an array of network providers in Valley.
The digitization of the cable network has bestowed the most consummate movie-watchers the privilege of watching the choicest movie channels without much “necessary” obstruction. People share movies through hard-disks, pen drives.
The scenario thus begs a question. Has the absence of cinema halls in Kashmir served any meaningful purpose?
For decades, Valley has had a robust cine-culture. A colorful nightlife existed well before the armed insurgency broke out. Young boys slunk out of their homes in the dead of night to watch the late night theatre.
But during those tumultuous twenty four years that embroiled the region with political instability, the culture underwent a wholesale annihilation. Cinemas were destroyed. The abandoned halls were occupied either to accommodate troops or create space for interrogation centers.
For many years now, certain political quarters have been voicing their opposition towards feeble attempts aimed at resurrecting that deceased culture. It is feared that the revival of cinema would stoke moral depravity. Would it?
Nearly 2/3rd of the youngsters in Kashmir are estimated to have access to Internet. For those who don’t, there is a ubiquitous cable TV giving unfettered supply of both English and Hindi movies.
Some years ago, government laid out plans to establish first Multiplex at Sangarmaal complex in Srinagar city. Insiders, however, have shared apprehensions whether or not such step would be doable. The proponents worry about the backlash. The initiative is thus yet to materialize.
There is a need to step up efforts to mobilize public opinion in this regard for cinema is indispensible to the media industry at large.