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AIS Screens “Afghan Star,” Issue of Shariah Grips Post-screening Discussion

The Afghanistan Studies Centre of the Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) screened “Afghan Star”, a critically acclaimed documentary film on Friday 31 January, 2014 at the university’s Mir Anis Conference Room, Dayar-e-Mir Taqi Mir. The screening was followed by an open-ended discussion in which teachers and students including about a dozen Afghan students of Jamia Millia participated.

Prof. Dr. Rani D. Mullen (left), conducts a post-screening discussion on the movie at Dayar-e-Mir Taqi Mir, JMI; Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 (Photo: Manzar Imaam)
Prof. Dr. Rani D. Mullen (left), conducts a post-screening discussion on the movie at Dayar-e-Mir Taqi Mir, JMI; Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 (Photo: Manzar Imam)

The documentary, named after a popular reality TV show of the same name is directed by Havana Marking, a British director and producer of documentary films, revolves around the theme of love, liberty, hope and opportunity among other themes and is set against the backdrop of the post-Taliban era.

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It tells about the aspirations of the young Afghan boys and girls who wish to enjoy life and give their desires a chance to fulfill while they participate in a musical contest. Four contestants take part in the musical programme in which one participant is a female who gets eliminated at the last round after which Rafi Naabzada becomes the Afghan Star. The documentary is critical with the fact that music was completely banned during the Taliban regime and women were strictly prohibited from public space, with no question of their participation in any entertainment programme including music.

The post-screening discussion was moderated by Prof. Dr. Rani D. Mullen, Associate Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA and a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar at JMI. She raised the question before the participants if Afghanistan was again going back to the days of Shariah imposition and if so, why, to which several arguments followed. An Afghan girl student argued that external actors were motivated by power designs and not with the real development of the country. Another Afghan student believed that the fight in Afghanistan was more of political nature that it simply appeared.

Prof. Shri Prakash, Prof. Syed Sulaiman Ahmad, Dr. Mathew Joseph, Dr K. N. Tennyson, Dr. Angira Sen Sarma, research scholars and students watched the documentary and took part in the discussion.


Watch the documentary trailer here:

About Manzar Imam

Manzar Imam (class of 2014) is a staff writer for Jamia Journal, and an M.Phil student in the MMAJ Academy of International Studies. He can be reached via email at: manzarkhalil [at]

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