The Afghanistan Studies Centre of the Academy of International Studies (AIS), Jamia Millia Islamia screened the prominent Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s film “Kandahar” at The Tagore Hall, Dayar-e-Mir Taqi Mir on Wednesday 6 November, 2013. This was the second movie in a series of movies on Afghanistan. Earlier, on 18 September, 2013 the Centre had screened “The Kite Runner”, adapted into a film by Marc Foster from the best-seller novel of the same name by Khaled Hosseini.
The screening was followed by a long discussion around important aspects of the film in which participants raised several questions related to the film, its duration, major themes like food, diseases and suffering of women in a war-torn country.
Dr Rani D. Mullen, Associate Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA and a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, initiated the discussion. Dr Mullen, who is presently conducting a six-week long seminar course on State Rebuilding in Afghanistan at AIS, said that the film raises serious issues of migration, malnutrition, poverty, etc.
Kandahar shows the disturbing portrait of huge loss and chaos of the Taliban regime. It is one of the earliest films made on the Taliban regime’s notoriety and its toll on Afghanistan and its people especially women. The film is good from aesthetic viewpoint. For example the scene of landmine amputees running in crutches for more prostheses being parachuted from helicopters is horrendous but it has been shot very beautifully.
The story of Kandahar revolves around Nafas, whose sister is left behind in Kandahar when her family leaves for Canada. Nafas comes looking for her sister who has lost her legs to a landmine and who writes her that she will kill herself during the final eclipse before the dawn of the 21st century because of the unspeakable suffering that she has been undergoing.
In the post-screening discussion some participants argued that the film has a negative connotation as it shows a young boy being unjustly expelled from a traditional religious institution.
Former Ambassador T.C.A. Rangachari, who is also the director of AIS, Prof. Suresh Sharma, Dr Mathew Joseph, Dr K. N. Tennyson, Dr. Agnira Sen Sarma, teachers and a large number of students from different departments watched the film and participated in the discussion.