Kashmir's hills alive with sound of Bollywood

Wed Feb 6, 2008 9:26am EST
 
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By Sheikh Mushtaq

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - In a sure sign that separatist violence is waning in Kashmir, Bollywood actors are once again being spotted singing, dancing and coyly flirting in the region's idyllic Himalayan countryside.

In 1964, the musical "Kashmir Ki Kali" inspired a thousand honeymoons with its shots of Shammi Kapoor trying to impress a girl with his trademark jerky dancing as they drift across a lake in separate gondolas, a chorus line floating in the background.

Dozens of other movies helped millions of Indians stuck in the sweltering plains to understand why Mughal emperors thought Kashmir was heaven on earth.

But a bloody uprising in the disputed region in 1989, claimed by both India and Pakistan, put an end to Bollywood's Kashmiri romance.

For years, the Alps of Switzerland served as a substitute paradise for al fresco song numbers. Partly as a result of this, Switzerland now routinely tops polls of the most popular holiday and honeymoon destination for Indians.

But the tide once again seems to be turning.

Only three movies were shot in Indian Kashmir between 1998 and 2003, according to tourism officials. But then India and Pakistan began to talk about peace.

Since 2004, at least four Hindi-language films have been shot in the region, along with five movies from some of India's other regional-language film industries, say tourism officials.   Continued...

 
<p>Vehicles move under snow-covered trees after season's first heavy snowfall in Srinagar February 6, 2008. In a sure sign that separatist violence is waning in Kashmir, Bollywood actors are once again being spotted singing, dancing and coyly flirting in the region's idyllic Himalayan countryside. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli</p>