People have started calling it the Shah Rukh Khan factor -- Kashmir perhaps could not have had better brand ambassador than the Yash Chopra film unit shooting in the valley.
While Chopra has returned after a gap of three decades to the locales in Kashmir, this is Shah Rukh's maiden shoot in the valley.
The Bollywood superstar's massive fan following could be seen with scores of youths and tourists heading for Pahalgam hill station Tuesday where Shah Rukh and co-actor Anushka Sharma are shooting for Chopra's untitled film.
"The revival of Yash Chopra's relationship with Kashmir and the arrival of Shah Rukh has been the biggest Kashmir promoter in recent years," Nazir Bakshi, owner of Shiraz Travels, told IANS. His agency is handling the film unit's schedule in Kashmir.
A heavy blanket of security has been thrown around Pahalgam where the actors and nearly 100-member crew are staying.
"The unit will shoot in Pahalgam for around a week before it moves to Gulmarg and Srinagar to complete rest of the shooting," Bakshi said.
In Srinagar, Shah Rukh is likely to shoot in the Zabarwan Hills, Dal Lake and Lal Chowk.
While Chopra is busy shooting the film, his wife, Pamela, and son Aditya are enjoying the beauty of the Lidder Valley.
"The fact that a high profile filmmaker like Yash Chopra is back to his choice destination proves that things have really improved here," said a member of the film unit, who did not want to be named.
"People are cooperative and helpful. Nature has given Kashmir its best and the world needs to be brought up to date with the magic of Kashmir," the unit member said.
After cinema halls were shut down in the early 1990s in the valley due to separatist violence, satellite television became the window to Bollywood and Hollywood.
"I will move from one location to another chasing Shammi Kapoor during the shooting of 'Kashmir Ki Kali' and 'Junglee'. Sharmila Tagore too made her Bollywood debut with 'Kashmir Ki Kali'," said 72-year-old Abdul Samad Sheikh.
"Shammi would drive down to a sweet shop in Residency Road to have his Punjabi breakfast and we would line up outside to shake hands with him. Those days are unforgettable."
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