Tuesday 28 November 2006
Source: Daily News & Analysis.
«I Love India, but tell me where is Shah-Rukh Khan?» asks a minister of the Hamid Karzai Government in war ravaged Kabul.
The minister is not alone in tossing such posers. The moment you introduce yourself as a tourist from India, people enthusiastically enquire about Hindi cinema and make specific queries about Ajay Devgun, Akshay Kumar, Aishwaraya Rai… the list is endless.
«Shah-Rukh Khan ko Hamara Salam bolo, hum Afghan usko yaad karta hai.» This request to convey the Afghans’ salutations to the film star came from a group, sitting around a middle-aged carpet seller on a dusty Kabul street.
The craze about Bollywood and TV serials is increasing everyday, says a 45-year-old Afghan security guard outside Safi Landmark Hotel. He said a number of serials have been dubbed in the local language.
A popular Hindi TV serial Saas bhi kabhi Bahu thi has become a household name in this war-torn state where a number of private Toyota cabs ply with colourful posters of the serial’s character Tulsi, enacted by Smirit Irani, stuck on the dashboard or windscreen. As popular as serials are, the music is even more ubiquitous.
In an Italian restaurant in heart of the city, lit up with a generator in the power starved capital, the owner boasted of spicy pizzas and pastas but the loudly played radio which was airing Hindi songs.
«Sahib Meri Tho Kahani aisi hai ki , Bombay wale picture bana Sakte hai», a young attendant at a typical Afghani restaurant, said.
Profusely apologising for not offering vegetarian food, he nevertheless managed to bring tasty Afghani curd and salad with huge pathani bread.
Despite repeated coaxing, he refused to “leak” his story hoping some Bollywood producer will land up there to listen to his plot. He said he was in Pakistan for a few years too.
Since the city suffers from frequent power breakdowns, making it difficult to switch on TV sets, citizens depend on internet cafes to download tunes on mobile phones during their leisure time. Besides ring tones, people are fond of audio, video clips of Hindi film songs.