Bollywood draws unemployed youth in Afghanistan

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Kabul, April 13 (IANS) Indian cinema, a fantasy world full of love stories and song and dance routines, is providing a much needed diversion for jobless youth in war-torn Afghanistan, says a media report.

In conservative Afghanistan, in the absence of bars and night clubs, the only entertainment on offer in the post-Taliban regime is cinema.

There were 17 cinemas here in the capital city before the advent of the Taliban. Most of them were destroyed by the militia and the few remaining ones show mostly Indian and Hollywood movies, Xinhua news agency reported Monday.

Standing in front of a billboard and looking at posters of an Indian film, a teenager said he likes watching Bollywood movies.

"I like Indian films very much because they are full of love, beauty scenes and songs," 17-year-old Ahmad was quoted as saying.

A daily-wage earner from the militancy-plagued Helmand province, Ahmad came to find a job in Kabul a few months ago. He said he goes to cinema once in two weeks often on Fridays, which is a weekly holiday in Afghanistan.

However, all cinemas in Kabul are thronged usually by the young and jobless people.

"Sitting idle at home angers my father, so cinema is the proper place for a passtime," 24-year-old Sibghatullah said.

Though he works as a carpenter, Sibghatullah said he was looking for a regular job.

"Going to cinema and watching movies is much better than fighting and killing people. We are fed up with war and want peace and more entertainment to forget our past ordeals," Sibghatullah said.

Taliban, during its six-year rule, which collapsed in 2001, had outlawed all entertainment including cinema, music and even television.

The collapse of the militia regime led to mushrooming of music centres, television and radio stations, newspapers and to some extent cinemas.

The local film industry is now recovering as films produced by Afghan companies are now being shown on television and on the silver screen.

Around 20 television channels also put on soap operas, serials and movies in addition to broadcasting news bulletins.

"Here in Kabul, I feel happy as I can work, earn money and support my family and above all I can easily go to the cinemas to enjoy," Ahmad said.