However, Janus Khan is quite happy. After the screening the laborer, 22, admitted he regularly came to the Shama “to enjoy myself, alone or with one or two friends.”
“I’m not very pious but I’m not a rapist or unfaithful,” he said.
The Shama has provoked controversy in Pakistan, a constitutional Islamic republic with a very conservative attitude to sex and nudity.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), one of the country’s leading religious political parties, has demanded the closure of the cinema.
However, the cinema has powerful owners — the Bilour family, one of the most influential in Peshawar and a pillar of the Pashtun nationalist ANP party.
Twice in the past 10 years, Islamist activists including JI students have attacked the Shama, but both times the cinema has risen again.
Burned down in September last year, it reopened a month later just in time for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which saw the Shama full.
How the cinema has avoided the attentions of the government censors, who cut even kissing from films, and the Taliban, who have destroyed countless supposedly “immoral” CD and DVD shops in recent years, is not clear.
In private, officials point to the wealth and influence of the Bilours — always useful in a chaotic and corrupt country.
Back on the screen, Dostana draws to its conclusion with the indecisive Shah Sawar drowning his sorrows in alcohol. Still unable to decide he summons the two women for a final menage-a-trois and in the film’s climax at last resolves to marry them both.