Saturday, March 11, 2006


Kandahar is a movie about Afghanistan, the woman of Afghanistan, the veiled woman of Afghanistan. It is a film made by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, one of the best known film makers from the middle east. It was shot in 2000, when the Taliban were in power and were busy blasting off the Bamiyan Budhas. Before 9/11/2001, when Mr Bush probably wouldn't be able to locate Afghanistan in the map.

This is the adaptation of a real life story. Of two girls, Dyana and Nelofer, two close friends, one[Nelofer] who fled to Canada during the communist invasion and the other[Dyana] who stayed back. For nine years, Dyana and Nelofer kept in touch through letters. While Nelofer got a degree in English, Dyana trained as an economist and worked in a bank in Kabul, until she, along with all other Afghan woman, was forbidden to work when the Taliban came into power.

Some days later, Nelofer got a letter from Dyana saying that she[Nelofer] should live for both of them and that her own life in Afghanistan, under the Taliban rule, was no longer worth living. Worried that Dyana intended to kill herself, Nelofer traveled all the way from Canada to Afghan border, determined to stop Dyana. Nelofer made it all the way to Afghanistan border alone, but was unable to proceed as she was convinced by other refugees that the remainder of the journey was simply too dangerous. Forced to look for help elsewhere, she thought of Mohsen Makhmalbaf and hence this movie.

The movie is the self-narrated story of Nilofer's travel to Kandahar. On the way, we see Afghanistan as it was then and most probably a it is now. A place, if it was not for Bin-laden and Al-Qaida, wouldn't be of any interest to anybody, because, there are no consumers, no free markets and nothing to export except poppy. The movie has no other story, and only the following theme runs through...

About hope...HOPE
You know, a person needs a reason for living...
And in difficult circumstances, HOPE is that reason...
Ofcourse it is abstract,
but for the thirsty it is water,
for the hungry it is bread,
for the lonely it is love,
and... for women living under full cover,
hope is the day that she will be seeing!

The film has an awesome picturisation and a beautiful background score. The only flaw I could think was that it ends all too suddenly when you are yearning for a lot more.

There are two things which came to my mind after watching the movie, For one, Mohsen Makmalbaf is an Iranian, and like him there are a number of Iranian directors and actors who have been the favorites among film festivals all over the world. They make wonderful movies, bold movies, movies which will inspire people to voice for a change. Women in Iran are more educated , enjoy more liberties than in more economically forward Saudi or Kuwait. Iran also has one of the most powerful student's unions movements in the world. Compare this with the societies of Afghanistan, Pakistan, some parts of India... (I don't want to say some parts of Kerala, "Padam Onnu: Oru Vilapam" not withstanding).

Let us accept that Islam has a, u can say a west imposed, identity crisis. At a time, when we have to rally around societies like the Iranian one, to project them as models onto which the Afghanistans and the Pakistans should mature into, what are we doing!. We are actually cornering them, making the common man rally around the fundamentalists, and creating more fodder for Al-Qaida to grow, as if Iraq was not enough. There are surely more ways to solve a problem. Before the war everything was right in Iraq, except Saddam. And to correct one wrong all the rights were destroyed too.

And the second thing which came to my mind was, I remembered that the most beautiful eyes I ever saw was behind a burqa. It was in Hyderabad, somewhere near Hussainsagar lake. I can only wonder how much more beautiful this world will be without the veils.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Suffice to say :

Beauty Lies in the eyes of the Beholder !