Once again Bollywood stars are beginning to film in the Valley, in another sign that peace and stability are returning to the restive state.
With peace slowly coming back to the Valley, top Bollywood filmmakers and directors are again making Kashmir a premier location for their movies.
In August, Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, popularly known as SRK, and other eminent actors and actresses landed in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir, for the shooting of a new movie directed by Yash Chopra, an iconic Indian filmmaker. The name of the movie has not yet been determined.
The resurgence of film industry interest, after a lapse of three decades, is a sign of Kashmir's returning stability, said Rauf Tramboo, chief of the Travel Agents' Association of Kashmir.
"After the turmoil of the 1990s, Bollywood was very much reluctant to choose Kashmir for their movies," he told Khabar South Asia. "But now we have hundreds and thousands of tourists coming in the last few years. It shows that Kashmir is safe for everyone."
Rauf hopes that Bollywood directors will show Kashmir in a positive manner, unlike films of previous decades that highlighted the conflict in the state. "Earlier, Kashmir was presented in a negative manner. It created a bad image among the public. Now everybody here hopes that this time Bollywood will show the real Kashmir, a peaceful one."
Showing "the real beauty of Kashmir"
Abid Ali, a young filmmaker, agrees that it is time for a change in perceptions about Kashmir.
"Kashmir is known for its conflict. Now, slowly through these movies, people will come to know about the beauty of Kashmir Valley," he said.
"I received so many calls from my friends in Kashmir about Bollywood's return," said Ali, who is currently studying film production in Delhi. "They believe that soon more and more actors will land in Kashmir to present the real beauty of Kashmir."
The Kashmir Valley was popular before the onset of armed militancy, he noted. Filmmaker Chopra highlighted its sights and sounds in many of his movies.
Now it appears that another golden era may be on its way for Kashmir as a film location.
"Everybody in Bollywood knows that peace is returning to Kashmir," noted film director and screenwriter Piyush Jha told Khabar. "They are aware that Kashmir is a beautiful place and it is the most suitable location in India to shoot. I am sure many other stars and professionals will follow."
That, in turn, will help boost the state's economy, said Rauf. "Once they show in movies that Kashmir is peaceful for everyone, definitely more and more tourists will visit Kashmir," he said.
A glimpse of a favourite star
Younger Kashmiris are particularly excited about the arrival of famous Bollywood personalities. In general, young people across India are wild about movies, and Kashmiris are no exception.
Mohammed Akram, 25, a businessman from South Kashmir, was keen to see Shahrukh Khan in person. "I am a die-hard fan of SRK. When I heard the news that he had arrived in Pahalgam, I went to his hotel next morning to see him," he said.
He waited for two hours to catch a glimpse of his favourite star. "Though I didn't meet him, I saw him coming out of the hotel and that one glimpse was enough for me," Akram told Khabar.