Afghan traces Bolly Khans' Pathan roots
Kabul man has penned a book on how the Pathan community has excelled in Hindi films|
Over a year ago, when Kabul resident Mehboobullah Khan came to India to work with All India Radio, he could not have imagined that his sojourn would result in a book on Bollywood tracing how Afghan-origin actors and filmmakers contributed to make it the world's most prolific film industry.
Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan may have their differences of opinion, but they share one thing in common their Afghan connection
Mehboobullah's countrymen and women are voracious consumers of Indian films and television serials, with the half-dozen movie halls in the Afghan capital continuously running only Bollywood movies.
"When I was there, I noticed that there are so many Khans in the Indian film industry. So, it spurred me to do some research," Mehboobullah said.
The 28-year-old journalist had come to the country to work with AIR's external services division, which also broadcasts in Dari and Pashto.
His aim was to show how transplanted Afghans have settled in India and helped Bollywood attain its present status. "I wanted to write about how the Pathan community has excelled in the Indian film industry," said Mehboobullah.
For six months in Delhi, he did research by reading as many books as he could get his hands on after work. "But then I felt that I needed to do some field work," he said.
So, he went traipsing to Mumbai, hoping to make personal contact with the superstar Khans. "It was very difficult to get to meet them... unless you know somebody," said Mehboobullah.
He finally got access through a roundabout way and used a highly-placed contact in the Afghan government, who knew a close associate of Salman Khan.
"I went to Salman Khan's residence for three days to interview him," he said.
He even went to Pune to watch Salman shoot for a forthcoming film, Bodyguard, also starting Kareena Kapoor. He also interviewed the rest of Salman's clan, including his brother Arbaaz and father Salim.
He realised that Salim, who was from Afghanistan, later settled in Madhya Pradesh.
After that, doors started opening for him in Bollywood and Mehboobullah met with the other Khans directors Sanjay Khan and Farah Khan and veteran actor Kader Khan.
"Sanjay Khan's brother, Feroze Khan had gone to Afghanistan to shoot his film, Dharmatma. He told me that he had wanted to go back, but the situation was not inimical for the visit," he said.
Their father came from Ghazni in Afghanistan, and settled in Bangalore where the Khan brothers were born. Feroze Khan went to Afghanistan to make his 1975 film, which was the first Indian movie to be shot in the starkly-landscaped country.
Only two other Indian films have also been shot in Afghanistan, Khuda Gawah (1992) and Kabul Express (2006).
However, despite persistent efforts, he has still not been able to meet either of the two other reigning Khans Aamir and Shah Rukh. While Aamir's family hails from Herat, Shah Rukh Khan's paternal grandfather was from the region. "I will continue to try to meet them again," he said.
Now back in Afghanistan, his book on the Khans in Bollywood was published in his country's two official languages Dari and Pashto in April. "I hope to be in India next month to look at printing an English version of my book there," said Mehboobullah.