Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Union Territory is a single political entity. It is a patchwork of many languages, cultures, and geographical settings. Kashmir is only a component of the larger matrix; it has no context. Jammu, or “the other sub-matrix,” is crucial, and as a result, J&K is a matrix.
Kashmir has been so ingrained in Indian culture over the years that if anything having to do with J&K, people immediately ask, “Isn’t that in Kashmir?”
Jammu continues to be an entity with existence but no recognition, despite being blessed with a comparable physical setting that makes Kashmir the region of ethereal beauty.
The Valley is overshadowed and seen by its mountains. Their snow-capped peaks are caressed by winds as they funnel down into the valley. Winds that are “subdued, not vocal,” laced with the scent of pine trees and the texture of Dogra culture, blow with a vanishing hope for a vanishing Bollywood camera set up in Kashmir with a yearning to be framed too in its unadulterated, virgin, and innocent natural beauty.
Jammu doesn’t flourish in our imaginations or draw in photographers, just as pines don’t bloom with colorful flowers or draw in bees. It’s not that Jammu lacks a vibrant literary or cultural scene. The first newspaper in J&K, Ranbir, began operations in Jammu in 1924. Journalist Baldev Parsad Sharma of Jammu and Gawsha Lal Koul founded Kashmir Times, the first English-language newspaper in J&K, in 1934 from Srinagar. Later, Ved Bhasin from Jammu relaunched Kashmir Times in 1954.
Here, the literary environment grew and blossomed. Ideas for movies sprung out everywhere in the fertile earth, and they blossomed all over the Jawahar tunnel.
Kashmir sprang into the cinematic world in 1964 thanks to the film “Kashmir Ki Kali,” which was directed by Shakti Samanta. Shammi Kapoor courting Sharmila Tagore for a shikara with the popular song “Yeh Chand Sa Roshan Chehra” as she is dressed in traditional Kashmiri garb. Indians were enthralled by it, believing Kashmir to be the sole “Janat Ka Chehra on Zameen.”
Jammu province produced its first Dogri film, “Gallan Hoyeian Beetiyaan,” which was released in 1966. The province was still mourning the “loss of power” after the Dogra rule ended in 1947 and the flames of the 1950s agitation by the Praja Parishad with slogans like “Ek desh mein do Vidhan, do Pradhan aur do Nishan nahi chalega” were still burning.
The Dogri movie contained every local component, with the exception of the principal female actress, whereas “Kashmir Ki Kali” had little to do with Kashmir other than locations. A few of Jammu’s most well-known authors were actors, lyricists, scriptwriters, and conversation writers. Only locally did it cause a stir. It wanted to put Jammu on a larger silver screen, but the viewers and owners of such displays were primarily interested in Kashmir.
This province’s topography varies from plains in the districts of Samba and Jammu to snow-capped hills, streams, rivulets, and pine trees in the districts of Udhampur, Kathua, Doda, Kishtwar, and Poonch. Some areas of Kishtwar, which are covered in snow and surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty, remain off-limits for the majority of the year. Zorawar Singh, a Dogra warrior, led an army from there to conquer Ladakh and Tibet. The camera is tempted by the frozen stillness to record and frame tales, yet it is elusive.
With the exception of the Dal Lake and Jhelum River, the locations are very comparable to Kashmir, but no promotion nor pushing was done for them. Then, none of the consecutive Kashmir-focused J&K administrations, who are likely harboring animosity against the Dogras, meant to.
Kashmir provided originality with its own or varied culture and Hindi-speaking language. Jammu was only regarded as one of India’s several provinces. It could also be poetic retribution for a region that once controlled Kashmir and Ladakh. You cannot use both eyes to examine the frame with the camera. Directors and cinematographers often examine locations or shots with just one eye. Ironically, they closed one eye through which they could see Jammu and instead focused on J&K.
After the Dogri movie was released thirteen years before, Bollywood began to operate in the Jammu area. ‘Janidushman’ and ‘Noorie’, two movies, were totally filmed in the Jammu area. The 1979 film “Jaani Dushman,” which included the popular song “‘ere haathon mein pehna ke chudiyan,'” was mostly filmed in Chenani and the lovely Patnitop region of the Udhampur district. Ram Soni, a wholesale vegetable merchant residing in Jammu, donated food and participated in the movie along with other local artists after the film crew’s descent caused such a stir.
‘Noorie’, a movie starring Farooq Sheikh and Poonam Dhillon, was released in the same year. It was also filmed at the town of Bhaderwah, popularly known as “Chotaa Kashmir, of the Doda district in the Jammu region.” Bhaderwah’s surroundings are startlingly similar to those of Kashmir: there is snowfall, snow-capped mountains, streams running through the centre of the town, wooden buildings, and a large expanse of rice fields and orchids.
However, Jammu was never featured in any Bollywood films following these films. Why? It’s not necessary to hazard a guess. The 1982 film “Bemisal,” starring Amitabh Bachchan and partially filmed in Kashmir, was also released. Is zameen se, aasman se, phoolon ke is gulsitan se, Jaana mushkil hai yahaan se is one of its songs. The phrase “Kashmir is J&K in and of itself,” along with “Tauba yeh hawa hai ya zanjeer hai, kitni khoobsurat yeh tasveer hai,” only served to cement this idea.
Similar to the lyrics, Bollywood demonstrated its connection to Kashmir and likely “killed” Jammu as a filming location.
Exploring and using nature for cinematic subjects is the art of film. It is thought that the whole body of literature is woven around 10 or 15 primary storylines. The storyline must be interwoven with localities and local culture in order for the cinematic art to succeed. Bollywood consistently fails to develop or fully explore the stories and settings. Had “Kashmir ki Kali” been filmed in Bhaderwah or Bani, it would still have been a success. Shammi Kapoor wouldn’t have lost his wooing charm, and Sharmila Tagore would still possess the same naive beauty.
Jammu has to be enticed by Bollywood to visit and discover it. It must be lured in and seduced. Once photographers get even a quick glimpse of Jammu’s natural beauty, they are lured in by it. It’s not a honeytrap to be used for evil intent, but rather to trigger camera explosions and self-exploration in its tentacles.
In a lengthy, lonely stroll, a seductress’ seductiveness fades. Jammu’s allurement from nature won’t go away, but it’s been waiting too long for the camera’s attention.
The glowing G-20 conference in Srinagar, which finally became a banner story, had the cameras fixated on Kashmir once again. Readers of major movie banners often react after reading the headlines.
The two Bollywood films that were filmed in Jammu were probably like pine oil, which vanishes after being spilled on linen and leaves no aroma behind. It lacks what Kashmir possesses in the form of “fixatives,” which are simply containers that store the oil and release it gradually. Not the oil, but the fixative is created or manufactured.