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December 13, 2001

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Mad about the movies!

Dhananjay Mahapatra in Kabul

After nearly two decades of fighting, people on the busy streets of Kabul, who cowered under the strict edicts of Taliban, are now baring their love for films from India.

The first question they put to is: "are you from India or Pakistan?" And on hearing your reply, the most likely remark would be, "I knew you could not have been from Pakistan. Apart from being good people, you produce such lovely films".

Bollywood has a huge fan following here.

"Hindi movies are really fantastic. The songs are nice, the stories are good. The heroes are manly and the heroines are beautiful," says Jamshed, who is trying to rebuild his carpet export business.

"The storylines in the Hindi film are far superior to those from Pakistan," says Naqvi, a doctor working with an NGO, who is trying to go abroad for a specialisation in surgery. "Many a storyline of the Hindi movies have been lifted by Pakistani film makers," he adds.

"Before the Taliban came, we used to have premiers of Hindi film. The film used to be released simultaneously in India as well as Kabul," says Latifi, a local businessman.

It is no surprise then that the Indian Government 'gifted' several Hindi film cassettes along with the aid material which was brought on Monday, by special envoy S K Lambah. The bulk of the cassettes were of the movies Lagaan, Gadar, Dil Chahta Hai and Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai.

Walking down the streets of Kabul is an odd experience. All the shops, barring the grocery stores have posters of Hindi film heroes or the reigning Bollywood queen.

One wonders how on earth the Afghans managed to suppress their love for films all this while?

"We had to. The Taliban were tyrants; if one was found watching a movie, he was sure to spend the next few months in prison", says Usman Abdullah, a cassette shop owner.

But now that the Taliban are dead, the fear is gone. And Bollywood is here to stay!

PTI

ALSO READ:
Exit Taliban, Enter Bollywood
The War in Afghanistan

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