After the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last week, filmmaker Kabir Khan, who shot his first feature film Kabul Express in the landlocked country, fears that there will be an exodus of all the artistes in probably the same manner when Taliban had invaded and ruled Afghanistan for 5 years.
Reacting to the killing of comedian Nazar Mohammad, popularly known as Khasha Zwan, in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, Kabir Khan feels that the Taliban won't let the art survive under their rule adding that 'the last time they didn't allow photography, forget cinema.'
"I would say there is going to be an exodus of all the artistes, they would have to run away, which happened last time also. I know a lot of them who were my friends, who worked with me in Kabul Express, they used to narrate their stories to me about how they ran away to Iran because that's the only place they could easily get work, because Dari which is spoken in Kabul is basically a dialect of Farsi, so for them it's easier to get work in Iran. Some came away to India, some would go to Pakistan, so I think it's going to be tough for people in the sphere of arts and culture to survive over there," Kabir told The Quint.
The filmmaker also mentioned that he has so many friends over there who are reaching to him to help them get a visa and reach India. But he feels heartbroken and helpless because 'there is nothing much one can do right now.' He added, 'Most of the time their phones are off, they are scared, they are underground.'
Kabir is also not convinced with Taliban's statement at a press conference that they will allow women to work and girls to attend schools. "I would be very happy if that's true, if they do prove to become different from what they were in 1996 and upto 2001, but I am not too convinced,"
He is also unhappy with the fact that India's Ministry of External Affairs statement that they would welcome Afganistan's Hindu and Sikh communities only. "People are identifying Talibans as Muslims, but they fail to understand that the people who are suffering at their hands are also Muslims," he said. "Thousands and thousands of Afghan muslims have died and suffered at the hands of the Taliban, so religion has nothing to do with it, we shouldn't be classifying people according to religion," he added.
Recalling his first trip to Afghanistan in 1996, 2 months before Taliban had taken over Kabul, Kabir said, "I had gone there to make a documentary for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the documentary was on the effects of war on children. Because even by then, they had seen 20 years of war. It was a very difficult documentary to make at a personal level because just seeing what the effect of war on children was just too much for us to carry on with and it became problematic also because at that time the Taliban were literally 20 kms outside Kabul and they would shell the city every day. So it became very dangerous for us to be there and we left at that point thinking that we'll come back when things got better, but they never did because 2 months later the Taliban had overrun Kabul and almost the entire Afghanistan was under their control."
He continued, "I finally returned 5 years later, post 9/11 when the Northern Alliance started regaining ground and the Americans were bombing the Taliban. I did a documentary on the 5 years of the Taliban rule and what it meant in Afghanistan. My experiences there was what ultimately led to the script of Kabul Express."
Kabir concluded saying that 'Any Indian who goes to Afghanistan is treated like such a dear friend and guest and it's really sad today when one is not being able to do anything for all the people there.'
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