Hema Malini: I don’t know what the Talibanis are going to do to Afghanistan – Eagles Vine

The sight of Hema Malini in Kabul was one of the most enchanting aspects of the song Kya khoob lagti ho from ‘Dharmatma’ that featured her along with Feroz Khan. It was the actor-producer who took Bollywood to Kabul for the first time in the history of cinema. ‘Dharmatma’ was also the first Hindi film to showcase the traditional ram fights from Afghanistan.

Today, Hema Malini feels disturbed watching the visuals of Kabul on television. She wants to focus on the beautiful memories of shooting for ‘Dharmatma’ in 1974 instead. She says, “It is so sad to see what it is happening and see people trying to escape from the country. That mad rush at the airport is very scary.”

‘Dharmatma’, a thriller and the first Hindi film to be shot in Kabul, featured Feroz Khan as a gangster who falls for a gypsy girl played by Hema Malini. There have been reports in the past that people from Kabul used to crowd outside The Intercontinental Hotel to get a glimpse of Feroz Khan who had impressed the Afghans. Hema Malini recalls, “The Kabul I knew was so beautiful and my experience there was very nice. We had landed at Kabul Airport, which was at the time as small as the Mumbai airport, and we stayed at a hotel nearby. But eventually we travelled to locations like Bamiyan and Band-e-Amir for our shooting and while returning back we would see these men with these long kurtas and beards, who looked like Talibanis. At that time Russians were also a force in the Afghanistan.”

Remarkably, back then, there was no fear of traveling to Afghanistan. Hema Malini says, “There was no problem at that time, it was peaceful and Feroz Khan had managed the whole trip and it was a very well organised shooting.”

The unit had to pass through Khyber Pass after shooting for a Buzkashi (a traditional sport where horse-mounted players attempt to place a goat or calf carcass in a goal) game portion of the film to return to their hotel in Kabul. Hema Malini says, “My father had accompanied us to the shoot and when we were passing through Khyber Pass he really got excited about it and mentioned to me that we had studied about it in history, too.” She adds, “We were all hungry so we stopped at a dhaba. Because we were vegetarians, we bought rotis and ate them with onions. Again, I remember seeing similar looking men. They looked very scary but, I think most of them were those kabuliwallahs.”

The senior actress is worried for the citizens of Afghanistan. She says, “I don’t know what the Talibanis are going to do to the place. I don’t know what will happen to the people of this country. Other nations should help them immediately and I know our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modiji will definitely reach out to them.”


The Times of India

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper and digital news media owned and managed by The Times Group. According to Audit Bureau of Circulations, it is ranked 9th in the world by circulation and 3rd in India.

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