When it comes to India-Afghanistan friendship, it’s hard to avoid mentioning Bollywood, which has tens of thousands of fervent followers in the war-torn country. Films like ‘Kabuliwala’ and ‘Khuda Gawah,’ starring Amitabh Bachchan, are regarded as modern-day icons of the nations’ brotherhood, which is being eclipsed by the Taliban takeover after 20 years of war and bloodshed.
Until the early 1990s, Afghanistan was one of the most important markets for Bollywood films. Hindi films did well in the theatres of larger cities like Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif even during the civil war years.
Many people believe that the cinematic conduits between the two countries would be reopened now that the Taliban has promised a more moderate version of themselves this time. So, what are the Taliban’s thoughts on the matter? Suhail Shaheen, the militant group’s spokesperson, told CNN-News18 that the revival of cultural links would be contingent on “action and policy.”
Shaheen said: “I think it depends on your action and your policy. Whether you adopt a hostile policy towards Afghanistan or it is a policy based on relations with the people of Afghanistan and constructive posturing. If it is positive then our people will reciprocate. The dam made by India and other projects for the welfare of the people of Afghanistan, we will welcome that.”
On the question of movies being shot again in Afghanistan, Shaheen said “this is something for the future”. I have no comment on that right now. What is important right now is the peace and stability of Afghanistan. We need a new Afghanistan, and peace, security and national unity. This is our priority and everything else I leave for the future.”