The relationship between Bollywood and Afghanistan is inseparable and even the ban imposed by the Taliban has failed to erase them from the mind and imagination of the common Afghan, who loves the films because they revolve around fighting injustice, which is omnipresent in the contemporary society, says a new book.
"Whether it is in the hostile southern provinces or the relatively peaceful northern provinces, the influence of Bollywood is palpable in the Afghan society...Bollywood movies are very popular in Afghanistan due to country's proximity to the Indian subcontinent and the cultural perceptions they
share," writes international expert Sujeet Sarkar in his new book "In Search of a New Afghanistan".
Amitabh Bachchan leads a list of Indian actors who have legions of fans in the trouble-torn country. The list includes Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and even Mithun Chakraborty.
"The common Afghan loves Bollywood films because they revolve around fighting injustice, which is omnipresent in the contemporary society. This inevitably touches a raw nerve in them.
"The larger-than-life representations of the Bollywood heroes, in sharp contrast to their stark reality, provide them a vicarious opportunity to immerse themselves into the grandiose reel life fantasies. The chart-bursting music is another addictive element," the book, published by Niyogi, says.
According to the author, more than the government, Bollywood has been able to establish a people-to-people link. Afghanistan was among the biggest market of Bollywood films until the early 1990s. Even during the civil war years, Hindi films continued to do brisk business in the cinemas of bigger cities like Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif... "Despite the resurgence of the Taliban, the love for
Indian cinema and music goes unabated in Afghanistan. The Indian film and music industry is once again riding high and continues to further the friendship and bring these two countries together." Sarkar says it is time now for Bollywood to make big inroads in the country.
"Bollywood must rethink about integrating Afghan actors, to take the bond and camaraderie to the next level and make this cross cultural exchange, an irreversible process." "In Search of a New Afghanistan" provides a new outlook, denouncing several myths that colour common global perception of the country. The author unveils several lesser known facts, while, elaborating the thrill and challenges of working in Afghanistan, from ground zero.
Afghan society, he says, is a complex conglomeration of ethnic, linguistic, religious and tribal lineages, more closely united at the local level than under the banner of Afghan identity at the national level.
He also argues that there are a number of myths about the development and peace building process in Afghanistan and the bulk of the international community views the development process under this influence.
"These myths actually guide and further shape international perspective about Afghanistan. For building a new understanding and perspective, these myths need to be analysed and laid bare," Sarkar says. PTI