By Danish Siddiqui

I believe that sometimes you learn about a city and its society from its local cinemas and the genre of films they choose to screen.

Coming from the heart of the Indian film industry in Mumbai, popularly known as Bollywood, I had no idea what to expect from the cinemas in Kabul. I had several questions on my mind. Did families go out to watch films or was it only a getaway for men? Is watching films at the cinema as popular as it is in other parts of the world? What kind of films entice the Afghan cinema-goer?

There are only half a dozen cinemas in the whole of Kabul. Most of the theaters like Cinema Park and Ariana Cinema were destroyed during the civil war and were later shut down by the Taliban who had banned, among other things, going to the movies. Now every theater has three films shown every day with the first one starting at 10a.m.

Bollywood films from India, Pashto films from Pakistan and occasionally dubbed Hollywood films are played in Kabul’s theaters, but the genre of film is always the same; Afghan movie fans love action films. At every cinema I shot and interviewed in, action films ruled the roost.

SLIDESHOW: KABUL CINEMA

The owners of all the cinemas told me Afghans loved Indian films but due to piracy were not able to screen the films, which usually hit the markets within days of their official releases.