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Afghan film connects with Cannes
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Afghan film connects with Cannes

Agency News

Cannes, May 20: There are five Hindi songs in a film that has won the hearts of the international audience at the Cannes film festival. And the film is not from India.

India may not have a movie in Cannes film festival this year, but an entry from Afghanistan has an abundance of Indian cinema. 'The Orphanage' directed by Afghan filmmaker Shahrbanoo Sadat tells the story of a 15-year-old boy who sells Hindi film tickets in the black in Kabul.  'The Orphanage', which premiered at the Directors' Fortnight parallel programme of the Cannes festival on Saturday, is inspired by the diaries of Sadat's friend Anwar Hashmi, who was a huge fan of Hindi cinema.

"It is only Anwar Hashmi, who loves Bollywood. The whole of Afghanistan is a big fan," says Sadat, who first saw a movie in a theatre at the age of 20.
Sadat is determined to tell stories of her conflict-ridden country from a citizen's perspective. Set in the '80s, 'The Orphanage' is about Qodrat, a 15-year-old boy who lives in the street of Kabul selling cinema tickets in the black market. It was the time Afghans flocked to their theatres to watch films from India before the wars began to destroy their lives. He is a Bollywood fan and daydreams himself into some of his favourite scenes from Hindi movies.

The film is weaved with Hindi songs, five of them precisely. One such is 'Jane Kaise Kab Kahan Iqrar Ho Gaya' (I don't know how, when and where it happened) from the 1982 Amitabh Bachchann -starring 'Shakti'. Another is the popular song from 'Sholay', 'Ye Dosti Hum Nahi Todenge (This friendship we will not break). There is also 'Andheri raaton mein.. (In dark nights) from 'Shahenshah'.
While the film is filled with Hindi songs, it also plays on the nostalgia of the people of a country that had one of the most modern societies until the '80s.

Sadat also wanted to cast Bachchan in her film. "But Bachchan said 'No' because he was booked for the next three years." "It was a pity," says Sadat, who received a standing ovation from the international audience in Cannes, among them several Indian filmmakers such as Anurag Kashyap. Sadat received funding from Germany and Denmark for the production. The film crew also transformed an entire brothel in Tajikistan into an orphanage with the help of construction workers.
Sadat plans to make five films from the diaries of her friend Hashmi. With the first two behind her, she is now looking forward to the next projects. The next films will continue to tell the story of Afghanistan and its wars. "No doubt destroying is easy, but creating is difficult and slow. Afghanistan needs so much time to go back to the '80s. ," she adds. (UNI)