An Afghan multi-millionaire has spent millions to create the largest individual collection of Hindi movies released between 1940 to 1980.
The 63-year-old Amanullah Nezami surprised the Indian authorities as he recently arrived to the country possessing a five-year visa which is rare among the non-diplomat foreigners.
With the security agencies suspicious regarding his visa, Mr. Nezami managed to obtain clearance from the airport with the intervention of a senior officer.
His story was reflected in local media for his unprecedented love to Hindi movies with and acquiring the identity of an unofficial brand ambassador of Hindi movies outside India.
He is currently living in Saudi Arabia where he runs a chain of restaurants under the brand of Al-Khalifa and visits India for at least a month every year.
His collection includes movies released between 1940 to 1980 and over 70,000 songs from the same movies, according to The New Indian Express.
Nezami said “I have 5,670 films to be precise. Barring a few I have almost every film in this period.”
To collect a rare song from Ambar from a Pakistani national, Nezami once travelled all the way from Jeddah to Berlin. “I paid him `1 lakh for the song but the person was more delighted that someone had travelled such a long distance just to collect the song,” Nezami said.
He says Hindi films have turned him half Indian. He has installed three flags at the ‘darbar’ in his residence. “Mera khoon hain Afghani par dil hain Hindustani (I come from Afghanistan but my heart lies in India),” he proclaimed with a smile.
Afghanistan was one of the biggest foreign markets for Bollywood films until the early 1990s. Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Hema Malini still have a fan-following here.
Newer actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham and Katrina Kaif too have developed vast admirers among Afghan youngsters who watch Hindi movies on local TV channels and through DVDs in bigger cities like Kabul, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif.
Bollywood broke new ground in Afghanistan in 2006 with the release of Kabul Express, the first international movie filmed in post-Taliban Afghanistan. India’s traditionally friendly ties with Afghanistan have been on a high since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
India is the sixth largest donor to the country with an aid budget of more than $1.5 billion, and Indian companies are rebuilding roads and schools in this country despite constant security threats. India and Afghanistan have established a strong relationship based on their historical and civilisational ties and strengthened New Delhi’s role in the reconstruction of the war-scarred nation.