By Quaid Najmi
Pune, May 22 (IANS): The first dedicated 'Jammu and Kashmir International Film Festival' -- with a mega dollop of glamour and political personalities -- shall open here on June 11, attracting a wide variety of filmmakers and other celebs from all over, an organiser said here.
The JAKIFF, a brainchild of NGO 'Sarhad', will span five days with the inaugural at S.M. Joshi Auditorium, film screenings at the National Film Archives of India halls and the curtains down at the Annabhau Sathe Sabhagruha.
"This is the first time that such a dedicated film festival has been organised on such a huge scale outside the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. We have got a response much better than anticipated," said an excited Sanjay Nahar, Founder-President of 'Sarhad'.
So far, the JAKIFF has received more than 51 feature films, short films, documentaries, video films and music videos for the fest, and more entries are still coming in daily, said Festival Director Mushtaaque Ali Ahmed Khan.
"The films and music videos, either by professionals from J&K or on subjects pertaining to J&K are being accepted as entries. The largest number of entries are from J&K and most of the shoots have been done in the UT," said Khan.
Khan and Nahar said that the JAKIFF aims to provide a platform for all film-makers from J&K, especially the young, amateur or upcoming professionals to display their creative talents before larger audiences.
"The fest will also showcase the beauty, culture, lifestyles, development and other issues related to J&K through the medium of films, and boost the UT as an ideal location."
A highlight would be special screenings of a select few, but top-rated films related to or shot extensively in J&K to revive old memories of film lovers, the duo said.
These are: 'Kashmir Ki Kali' (1964), 'Aarzoo' (1965), 'Do Badan' (1966), 'Daag' (1973), 'Aap Ki Kasam' (1974), and possibly 'Mainz Raat' (1964), the first ever black-and-white Kashmiri language classic which also bagged a National Award.
A galaxy of film personalities and politicians starting from Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar, Maha Vikas Aghadi Culture Minister Amit Deshmukh, Congress' former union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, President of J&K Apni Party Altaf Bukhari and others will grace the festival.
Also in attendance will be Sharmila Tagore -- the dainty and dove-eyed lead heroine and now the sole surviving cast of 'Kashmir Ki Kali', besides the charming 'daughter-in-law' of Kashmir, Shiv Sena leader Urmila Matondkar, who is married to Kashmiri filmmaker Mohsin Akhtar Mir, eminent filmmaker Jabbar Patel and more.
Srinagar's erstwhile 'Broadway' (Sonawar area), cinema owner Vijay Dhar, who has converted it into a multiplex to be inaugurated in July, writer-director Pran Kishore Kaul of teleserial 'Gul, Gulshan, Gulfam' fame, Kashmiri businessmen Mushtaq Chaya, Mir Sarwar, and Maharashtra's travel czar, Abhijit Patil, owner of Raja Rani Travels Pvt. Ltd. will be the dignitaries to be felicitated during the festival.
Mumbai marketing consultant Pradeepa Menon and wife Mini went on their maiden trip to Kashmir during lockdown and instantly fell in love with the valley. They are now planning to visit Pune specially for the JAKIFF.
"The Almighty has blessed J&K land with so much natural beauty, friendly people and abundant resources, but there's also blood staining its pure white snow… We must all come forward and support any such initiatives for the masses there," Menon told IANS.
Nahar said that the film fest was originally planned here in end-2019, but it got bogged down due to the disturbances in the erstwhile state and then the Covid-19 pandemic for the past over two years.
"We have emerged from all these crises and are now fully prepared to unveil the JAKIFF on June 11 for film-buffs and film people as well as the masses," he smiled.