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A Theatre Owner In Kashmir: “Rocky Aur Rani Should Do Well, KJo Has Fans Here”

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Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh in a still from the movie. (courtesy: Karan Johar)

New Delhi:

Big-ticket Hollywood movies Oppenheimer and Barbie were lapped up by audiences in Srinagar, says INOX Cinema theatre owner Vikas Dhar, who is confident that the momentum will continue with Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani as the film’s director Karan Johar enjoys a huge fan following in the region. The theatre owner said he started getting requests for Oppenheimer, headlined by Cillian Murphy, about four-five weeks before the film’s release on July 21. Greta Gerwig’s Barbie also opened the same day, whereas the Tom Cruise-starrer Mission: Impossible 7 hit the screens on July 14. “(They said) ‘Please make sure it releases on the same day as the worldwide release and the rest of India… For the first time, we have three Hollywood films playing at the same time.

“We are looking forward to Rocky Aur Rani… coming this week. Karan Johar has a huge fan following in Kashmir. I think that (film) should also do well. I feel the movie will be a longer-lasting film than Barbie or Oppenheimer,” Dhar told PTI in an interview.

In a video message, Johar had expressed “immense gratitude” to Dhar’s educationist father Vijay Dhar and the people of Kashmir for their love and support during the making of Rocky Aur Rani… He shot Tum Kya Mile, the song from the film which releases Friday, in Kashmir. Dhar said it was a “lovely surprise” when the filmmaker thanked his father in the video.

“Karan Johar thanked Vijay Dhar, which was quite a surprise… Kashmiris are house proud. We love the beauty of Kashmir. We are not somebody who grows up saying ‘We have seen this every day’… For us, to see that a big production (house) is coming here to shoot the movie makes us extremely proud and happy. The reaction of people here is fantastic,” he further said.

The love for cinema in Kashmir is not just limited to Bollywood, he said, recalling how the tickets for Oppenheimer were sold out in two-three hours of opening and the first day-first show of the movie was houseful. Barbie, starring Margot Robbie, had a relatively slow start but picked up later. He praised the youth of Kashmir for being “in tune with the rest of the world”.

“They are not, as you say, a frog in the well, like we were when we were growing up. They are more global citizens, and they are the people who are interested in the history of the world… They understand who Cillian Murphy is, who Christopher Nolan is,” he added.

The theatre owner, who fulfilled his father’s dream by setting up a cinema hall in Srinagar 32 years after terror groups had banned or burnt majority of these theatres in the city, dreams that the Valley has more theatres in the coming time.

“My hope is that more cinema houses come up. Mentally, it’s not a default option for us like in the evening, ‘Let’s go to the cinema hall, see what movie is screening, go get tickets, eat some dinner and come back’.

“Right now, what’s happening is that people with special interest in a particular movie are coming and seeing it,” the 56-year-old said.

Citing the example of Pathaan, Dhar said people came in “droves” to watch the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer earlier this year so much so that a viewer asked him if he could bring a chair from his house since they had run out of tickets.

“People had no idea there was a multiplex here before Pathaan and they came in droves. The word of mouth helped, which I hope will happen for Rocky Aur Rani… and Jawan, which is also coming.

“Word of mouth spreads so fast that people start walking in, demanding tickets. We said we can’t do it, the shows are all fun. One said, ‘I’ll bring a chair from my house. Can I sit in? Can I watch? You can charge me extra money.’ So, that is coming in, but we know it will take time,” he added.

INOX Cinema is Kashmir’s first multiplex, opened in the Sonawar area on September 20, screened Laal Singh Chaddha starring Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan on its opening day.

Days ago Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha inaugurated 100-seater multipurpose film theatres in Baramulla and Handwara towns of the union territory. Last year, similar theatres were inaugurated by the LG in Shopian and Pulwama districts of J&K.

Three new cinemas will open in Bandipora, Ganderbal and Kulgam districts in September, taking the total number of districts in the Valley to have film theatres to seven.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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