This article originally appeared on VICE India
On August 5, the Narendra Modi-led Indian government revoked Article 370, which conferred special status to the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Telephone lines were cut, thousands of Indian troops were deployed to what is the most militarised zone in the world, and several of the state’s politicians were put under house arrest. More than anything, this led to India’s status as the world’s biggest democracy being questioned worldwide.
In the midst of these ongoing grave circumstances, Bollywood has found a new way to make its money: registering film titles related to J&K and Article 370.
That’s right. Just a few days after the article was scrapped, film associations in the country are allegedly being flooded with applications from producers to register potential movies. Their suggestions? According to movie business analyst, Atul Mohan, directors are looking to make movies called Article 370, Kashmir Hamara Hai (Kashmir is Ours), Article 370 Abolished, Kashmir Mein Tiranga (Tricolour in Kashmir). And many more creative ideas along those lines.
Over 50 titles are said to have been registered with organisations such as Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association, Producers Guild of India, and more. To register a title, a production house needs to simply fill a form with a couple of alternative titles in order of preference, and pay Rs 250 plus taxes. Often, those registering a specific title don’t even intend to go through with a film, web series or a TV show. They register it so they can sell it to a studio or a major producer who might have the financial infrastructure to actually make the film. Patriotic and political films have really worked in the country, especially over the past year, which saw Uri: The Surgical Strike emerge as the 10th highest grossing Hindi film ever.
Earlier this year, as India and Pakistan were on the brink of war following the February 14 Pulwama terror attack that left over 40 CRPF personnel dead and several wounded, several Bollywood producers had rushed to register titles like ‘Zero Mercy Pulwama’, 'Balakot' and India Strikes Back’. Mohan told Mumbai Mirror, “Filmmakers had rushed to register titles around the Uri attacks, Pulwama attacks and demonetisation as well. Films on such subjects pique the audience’s curiosity.”
Needless to say, Indian Twitter was not impressed.
Modi also said that Kashmir will now be the setting for the "entire world" to shoot their films. In his first speech since Union Home Minister Amit Shah declared that Article 370 would no longer be implemented, Modi, last evening, expressed his encouragement for Bollywood, Telugu and Tamil industries to come to the Valley when making movies.
"There was a time when Kashmir was the favourite destination of Bollywood films. I am confident that in the future, even international films will be shot there," he said. "The entire world will come to Jammu and Kashmir to shoot their films."