Bollywood's Love for Afghanistan

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Bollywood's in Afghanistan

Ethnonym of Pashtuns, Afghans & in combination with the south of Hindu Kush is an embodiment of love & coherence. Afghanistan & India are coveralls for a period not known & Bollywood has been proving it time & again by making it stronger & fortified.
Jun 5, 2016, 8:56 pm ISTNewsJhakaasMovies Staff
Bollywood in Afghanistan
  Bollywood in Afghanistan

Afghanistan and India have trusted each other since the beginning of time. When the Aryans of Central Asia traveled out, two centers of Aryan Civilization arose almost simultaneously - Aryana (present day Afghanistan) & Aryavarta (present day India). The ancient city of Gandhar (now Kandahar in Afghanistan) finds a mention in the oldest of Indian epics - The Mahabharata. India and Afghanistan have been friends for centuries now and India's film Industry is playing a significant role in bringing these two nations closer.


Kabuliwala - The Afghan trader who traveled to India, immortalized by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, still lives in the hearts of many Indians. Bollywood producer Bimal Roy made a movie based on this story in 1961 titled 'Kabuliwala' featuring Balraj Sahni in the lead role as Abdul Rehman Khan. Kabuliwala was directed by Hemen Gupta and tells us a story about the affection between Kabuliwala, an immigrant from Afghanistan who travels to India to make some money for his family by selling dry fruits & a little girl named Mini, who reminds him of his daughter Amina whom he had left behind in Kabul, Afghanistan. The soundtrack of Kabuliwala features 'Ae mere pyaare watan' - one of the most patriotic songs ever seen in Bollywood. It was picturized on Afghan characters who sing this song in memory of their homeland Afghanistan. It was sung by Manna Day and penned by Prem Dhawan. This is one song that can raise the patriotic sentiments in people who stay away from their homeland, irrespective of their nationality. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did mention about Kabuliwala while talking about Afghanistan-India friendship in his speech after inaugurating the Parliament Building in Afghanistan. Modi was recently in Afghanistan to inaugurate the Salma Dam which was a part of series of major Indian infrastructure development projects initiated after the collapse of the Taliban regime. India is playing a major role in the re-development of Afghanistan as it considers Afghanistan its best friend in the region.

Khuda Gawah (1992):  Directed by Mukul Anand and featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi in the lead roles, this film won several Filmfare awards.  This Bollywood movie was extensively shot in Kabul & Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan. The music of Khuda Gawah was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. This movie remains a favorite for many Afghans who watched it as kids. It was also released in cinema halls after the ban imposed on Indian movies was removed post the fall of the Taliban regime.

Amitabh Bachchan has always appreciated the hospitality of the Afghan people in his interviews. Khuda Gawah was filmed with the cooperation of Najibullah Ahmadzai’s government in Afghanistan. Mr. Bachchan has always been thankful to Najibullah & appreciated his support in filming Khuda Gawah. Najibullah always wanted to show the good side of Afghanistan to the rest of the world and Khuda Gawah did just that. It introduced us all to the rich culture of Afghanistan.

Back in 1992, when the Bollywood crew filming Khuda Gawah landed in Afghanistan, the Afghan army reversed their rifles and put a flower in the barrel as a welcome gift. When Mr. Bachchan and his team reached the city of Mazar-i-sharif, they found hundreds of people on the streets who had come out not just to greet him but also to tell him that they had vacated their homes for him and that he could choose the one that he wanted to stay in. Mr. Bachchan was absolutely floored by the hospitality of the Afghan people and Najibullah in particular.  

Najibullah was the President of Afghanistan from 1987 to 1992. When the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996, they came after Najibullah in the middle of the same night, brutally tortured and castrated him, dragged him behind a truck and finally shot him dead and left his body dangling from a lamp post on a traffic circle as a public notice of the arrival of the new administration.


Indian film director Kabir Khan who directed Salman Khan in the Bollywood movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan says that Bollywood is a very popular medium to promote the Indo-Afghan friendship.  At a press conference held in Karachi, he talked about his experience in Afghanistan as a documentary film maker in 2001. He said he couldn't get a Pakistani visa to enter Afghanistan via Peshawar and therefore had to fly to Tajikistan and then cross the border to enter Afghanistan. He did land in Tajikistan and then had to bribe a Russian Chopper Pilot with US$ 2000 to cross over the Hindu Kush Mountains to reach Afghanistan. When the chopper reached a mountain near Kabul he was asked to jump out of the chopper from about 20 feet above the ground. After he landed, he saw an Afghan warlord walking towards him with a Kalashnikov in his hand with the intention of killing him. Kabir was terrified and started saying "Hindustan..Hindustan (India)" so that the warlord identifies his nationality. Soon after finding out Kabir Khan's nationality, the Afghan warlord put his Kalashnikov down, smiled towards Kabir and started singing the Bollywood song "Mere sapno ki raani kab aaogi tum". That was the time when he realized how powerful Bollywood was in promoting the Indo-Afghan friendship.

Even though Afghanistan is home to some of the most stunning locations in the world, it has never been an ideal location for film makers because of the security concerns and political instability. Bollywood has been brave enough to shoot some of its movies in this beautiful nation. We bring you a list of some popular Bollywood movies that were shot in Afghanistan:

Khuda Gawah: A true symbol of India-Pakistan friendship, this movie was extensively shot in Afghanistan, Nepal and India.

Dharmatma (1975): Produced & Directed by Feroz Khan, Dharmatma was the 1st Indian movie to be filmed in Afghanistan. Thanks to the scenic beauty of Afghanistan, Cinematographer Kamal Bose won a Filmfare award for this movie.

Kabul Express: Directed by Kabir Khan, Kabul Express was released in the year 2006. It was not received well at the box office.

With the establishment of democratic government, we only hope that the cultural exchange between India and Afghanistan increases with every passing day. Long live Afghanistan-India friendship.  We won't be surprised to see the IIFA Awards being held in Afghanistan in a few years time.



Amitabh Bachchan, Sridevi

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