The memoir was posted on the Facebook page of Amitabh Bachchan, and described his experience while shooting the movie in Afghanistan, where the small delegation of the Indian film industry was openly welcomed despite “extremely troubled times.”
The movie ‘Khuda Gawah’ was, and was produced in and around the shrine-city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The movie was directed by Mukul Anand, starred Amitabh Bachchan, Sridevi (in a double role), Danny Denzongpa, Nagarjuna and Shilpa Shirodkar.
Amitabh Bachchan writes, “Produced by Manoj Desai, it was supposed to be a six-day guest appearance but developed into a full- fledged role at his insistence. I cherish the memory of the movie entirely for the trip to Afghanistan where it was shot during extremely troubled times.”
He said, “The Soviest had just left the country and power handed over to Najibullah Ahmadzai who was a die-hard fan of popular Hindi cinema. He wanted to meet me and we were given right royal treatment. We were treated as VVIP state guests at Mazare-e-Sharif and taken through the length and breadth of the incredibly beautiful country in airplanes with armed escorts. We received the traditional warmth of the locals who have passion of hospitality. We weren’t allowed to stay in hotel… a family just vacated its home for us and moved to a smaller house.”
Mr. Bachchan added, “There were security problems, of course, with tanks and armed soldiers all over the streets. Still, it’s been the most memorable trip of my lifetime. The unit was invited by a group of warlords, Danny Dengzongpa, Biloo, Mukul and I boarded a chopper gunship, flanked by five other helicopters. It was an unforgettable ride. The aerial view offered us the vista of purple mountains turning pink and red because of poppies growing there. Time seemed to have stood absolutely still in the valley where the chopper landed.”
“We could see a medieval castle-like structure in the distance. We were bodily lifted by the warlords and carried there because traditionally, the feet of guest aren’t supposed to touch the ground. From the castle we went to grounds where the Buzkashi tournament had been organized for us. Colourful tents had been set up, I thought I was in Ivanhoe land. The warlords insisted that the four of us spend the night there, the palace was emptied and the four of us kept eating and drinking and looking as if we’d wandered into an unbelievable fairy tale,” he wrote.
He also added, “We were smothered with gifts. In Kabul, the night before we flew back to India, Najab called us to president’s residence and decorated all of us with the ‘order of Afghanistan’. That evening his uncle sang an Indian raga for us with impeccable ease. I don’t know where our hosts are, I often wonder where they are today.”