When Amitabh Bachchan recalled shooting Khuda Gawah in Afghanistan's 'extremely troubled times'

  • Amitabh Bachchan's film Khuda Gawah was shot in Afghanistan in very difficult times. In an old social media post, the actor had narrated the experience.
Amitabh Bachchan in Khuda Gawah.
Amitabh Bachchan in Khuda Gawah.
Published on Aug 17, 2021 05:47 PM IST
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Afghanistan is in news with the Taliban takeover of the country. However, in the past, the country has had a connection with Bollywood with films like Dharmatma to Kabul Express being shot there.

One such movie that was filmed there was Amitabh Bachchan's Khuda Gawah (1992). A sequence of Buzkashi (a sport played while riding horses) was shot in and around Mazar-e-Sharif in the 'extremely troubled times'. In 2013, Amitabh recalled the entire experience in a Facebook post.

He had written, "It was produced by Manoj Desai, it was supposed to be a six-day guest appearance but developed into a full-fledged role at his insistence. I cherish the memory of the movie entirely for the trip where it was shot during extremely troubled times."

An NDTV report, quoting from his post, had added, "The Soviets had just left the country and power handed over to Najibullah Ahmadzai who was a die-hard fan of popular Hindi cinema. He wanted to meet me and we were given right royal treatment. We were treated as VVIP state guests at Mazare-e-Sharif and taken through the length and breadth of the incredibly beautiful country in airplanes with armed escorts. We received the traditional warmth of the locals who have passion of hospitality. We weren't allowed to stay in hotel... a family just vacated its home for us and moved to a smaller house."

Amitabh Bachchan's post on Khuda Gawah's shoot in Afghanistan.
Amitabh Bachchan's post on Khuda Gawah's shoot in Afghanistan.


He recalled how tanks and armed soldiers were everywhere. "There were security problems, of course, with tanks and armed soldiers all over the streets. Still, it's been the most memorable trip of my lifetime. The unit was invited by a group of warlords, Danny Dengzongpa, Biloo, Mukul and I boarded a chopper gunship, flanked by five other helicopters. It was an unforgettable ride. The aerial view offered us the vista of purple mountains turning pink and red because of poppies growing there. Time seemed to have stood absolutely still in the valley where the chopper landed."

Amitabh spoke about how warlords bodily lifted them as the custom in those parts was to ensure that guests feet did not touch the ground. He further said: "We could see a medieval castle-like structure in the distance. We were bodily lifted by the warlords and carried there because traditionally, the feet of guest aren't supposed to touch the ground. From the castle we went to grounds where the Buzkashi tournament had been organized for us. Colourful tents had been set up, I thought I was in Ivanhoe land. The warlords insisted that the four of us spend the night there, the palace was emptied and the four of us kept eating and drinking and looking as if we'd wandered into an unbelievable fairy tale."

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Amitabh ended his post recalling how they were smothered with gifts and wondered where their hosts were. "We were smothered with gifts. In Kabul, the night before we flew back to India, Najab called us to president's residence and decorated all of us with the 'order of Afghanistan'. That evening his uncle sang an Indian raga for us with impeccable ease. I don't know where our hosts are, I often wonder where they are today."

Afghanistan has been hit by turmoil after the US announced the withdrawal of its troops from that country.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022