Home News Pakistan Cinema Returns to Pakistan’s Swat Valley

Cinema Returns to Pakistan’s Swat Valley

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Download The Pakistan government is planning to give Swat the status of ‘film city’ to help boost the domestic cinema industry.

The industry is growing strong as people are no longer afraid of going to the cinema to watch the latest movie.

In the past, under the Taliban rule, movies were banned because they’re considered un-Islamic.

Mudassar Shah has the story.

Dozens of people are standing in line at the only cinema in Swat Valley.

They’re queuing to buy tickets for the 6 PM showing of “Ghandaar”, a romantic Pashtu movie.

The other two movies showing today are also love stories.

There’s no air conditioning inside the cinema hall.

Tickets costs only 1.5 US dollars, but the only place to sit is on wooden benches, there are no comfy recliners, no popcorn.

The floor is dirty and littered with cigarette butts.

The roof is in disrepair...but the cinema has a large new screen.

Today people are more interested in love stories than stories about war or fighting.

“Ghadaar” is a story about a young man trying to propose to his girlfriend.

When the film starts, the audience begins to dance enthusiastically along with the music.

They’re all men in their 20s or 30s.

One of them is 22-year-old mechanic Masri Khan, who’s here with his friends.

“I work hard all day. But at night, I come here to enjoy myself. I like watching movies, especially romantic ones. I enjoy the music and the Pashtu songs. The quality of the movies have improved. No doubt about it. There are vulgar dances in the movie, but I think that’s fine.”  

During the break, 13-year-old Taseer Jan walks between the aisles inside the cinema hall.

For the past year he’s been selling sweets and cakes.

“My father has tuberculosis and he was seriously ill. I dropped out of school because we didn’t have enough money. After that I started working in the cinema. I love my education but I like working here too.”

The cinema was first re-opened in 2009 after the Taliban lost control of the area.

The cinema hall is dirty inside, but the outside is decorated with huge colourful posters of actors and actresses to attract young audiences.

Posters like these were unthinkable when the Taliban was still in power.

Muhammad Khaliq has been working as a cinema manager for the past 28 years.

“Around 800 to 1200 people used to watch movies every day in cinemas before the Taliban came to power. During the time of the Taliban, we received threatening letters from the militants saying that they would blow up the cinema if we stayed open. People stopped coming to the cinema when they found out about the threats. That’s why we had to close. But now, 300 to 400 people come to watch movies every day. I expect the number of people to increase if the Pakistani army stays in Swat to improve the security situation.”

But many women and families are still reluctant to come to the cinema for fear of being attacked.

Outside the cinema, 21-year-old Said Muhammad is chatting with his friends.

“In the past the Taliban closed down cinemas and banned mobile phones. They were strict but we were able to watch TV secretly at home and I had movies on my cellphone. Now, after the end of the Taliban era, we can go to the cinema to watch movies whenever we want.”


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 February 2013 17:53 )  

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