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Crowded Peshawar cinemas mark peaceful Eid ul Adha
As anxiety levels drop after terrorist threats diminish, film buffs return to cinemas to celebrate return of life to normal.
By Zahir Shah
PESHAWAR – Unlike recent years when terrorist threats and economic woes overshadowed Eid ul Adha celebrations, this year marked a return of life and culture to Peshawar, particularly at the cinema.
"After many years, I’m here to watch a movie, and many of my friends are also here," Rait Khan from Bara, Khyber Agency, said as he stood in line to buy a ticket for “My Name is Khan.”
Movie-goers like him queued in front of cinemas in Soerkano Chowk, on Cinema Road, and in Peshawar Cantonment to view a mix of old and new titles and even an English-language film.
Film-lovers, who flocked to see the Pashtu block-busters "My Name Is Khan" and "Charsi" in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) capital as things remained peaceful this Eid, termed the revival of local cinemas "a good omen" for life.
Enjoying life again
In past years, bomb threats curtailed attendance at entertainment venues, Khan said, but with the situation so much calmer now, the public is thronging cinemas, mini-cinemas and picnic spots.
"I am happy that life, which was paralysed by militancy and terrorism, has come back to these entertainment houses,” Ali Jan from Charsadda told Central Asia Online. Now, instead of seeing a society gripped by fear, he’s happy to see again “the real face of this society, which has always shunned terrorism and bloodshed."
In addition to the Arshad and Sabrina cinemas, he listed Aman, Tasweer Mahal, Picture House, Firdous, Shama and PAF Auditorium as his favourite spots to visit in the "old days."
This year, the cinemas provided much-needed entertainment on Eid for a public fed up with continued extremism and recession, Adezai resident Janab Gul told Central Asia Online.
"I live near Kalakhel adjacent to Dara Adamkhel, where still it's not possible to listen to music," Janab said. "We mostly listen to the FM radio on mobile, which is the only source of entertainment for most of the villagers, as TV and films are only a dream for many."
"I am really excited to watch Jehangir Khan and Babrak Shah," Janab’s friend Roid Khan said, referring to a pair of movie stars. "They remind me of the times of legendary Pashtun film actors Badar Muneer and Asif Khan."
“Business is going well,” said Zahid Khan, who sells tickets at a cinema.
"We are having a full house in all the four shows during the three days of Eid as well as after Eid," he said. "We didn’t expect such a rush."
Customers were watching the same movie two or three times, even if though a ticket cost more than Rs. 300 (US $3.13). “You couldn’t believe it,” Zahid said.
In addition to the cinemas, the KP Arts Council’s Nishtar Hall attracted a large audience for a special musical and entertainment show, "Loi Akhtar Dai Mubarak Shah" (“Greetings on Eid ul Adha”), which featured singers and other performers who mesmerised the audience.
The show was aimed at promoting the Pashtun culture and providing true entertainment, KP Arts Council chairman and artist Tariq Jamal told Central Asia Online, adding that the full-scale revival of entertainment is encouraging for artists and art lovers alike.