The ruling Mufti family in Jammu and Kashmir is obsessed with inviting Bollywood for shooting in the Valley. In 2015, soon after taking over as the Chief Minister, late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, flanked by council of ministers and other top brass, flew to Mumbai asking the film industry to “renew its connections with Kashmir.”
After two years, his daughter and successor at the chair, Mehbooba Mufti has done the same. However unlike Mufti, who mainly called on the stars which fetched little or no results, CM Mehbooba Mufti is banking largely on the yesteryear iconic villains and other character artists.
Asking the Bollywood to renew its connections with Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on March 17 appealed the film industry to promote the state’s tourism. Mehbooba said that given an opportunity, she would like to invite superstar Salman Khan to be the brand ambassador of Kashmir tourism.
However, the Chief Minister said it in a function where none of B-town’s leading faces were present. As per an official handout released by Information Department: “Actors Raza Murad, Farida Jalal, Ranjeet, Kiran Kumar and other stars besides Director Akbar Khan and Producer of upcoming film Sargoshian Imran Khan and other Bollywood personalities were present on the occasion.”
It’s not that such actors are any less than superstars but the problem is that J&K government has evolved a sardonic sense of tourism promotion. In a bid to lure tourists, instead of hosting functions in the Valley blessed with scenic beauty, the ministers and bureaucrats often fly to other places as if their facial appearance or political speeches will attract tourists. Well if their face value is so impressive why don’t they themselves take over as the brand ambassadors?
Official documents reveal that despite no visible outcome so far, the tourism department has spent about Rs 4 crore sponsoring the tours of its officials and ministers in the name of holding promotional events.
As per the officials of the tourism department, Mehbooba’s latest tour to Mumbai will cost around Rs 30 lakh to state exchequer as scores of prominent faces from the Valley will be travelling along her i.e CM’s Advisor Prof Amitabh Mattoo, Secretary of Tourism Farooq Ahmed Shah and a battery of travel and tour operators.
Tourists and film stars know their needs. After a decade-long breakup with Kashmir during the peak of militancy in 1990s, over the years Bollywood has already renewed its connections with the Valley. From Aamir Khan, Shahrukh and Salman to Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika and Katrina almost all of them have been visiting Kashmir for shooting their films.
But ironically, the Mufti government has ignored the ground reality of the region and is misplacing its priorities. At a time when gunfights are raging and stray bullets have not even spared kids, the Chief Minister wants Salman Khan to be the brand ambassador!
Given the fragile situation when even stray bullets kill civilians with precision, only iconic baddie Ranjeet can promote Kashmir!
In his typical style of massaging chest with one hand, it would be a visual delight to see him wearing a wicked smile say: Behno aur Bhaiyo Kashmir aao, stray bullet say koi nahi marta, mein such kehta hun.
At least it will bring smile to the otherwise scared people by reminding them of Ranjeet’s popular dialogues like Pehlay Hum Tumhara Purse Lootaingay Phir Izzat!