She Gave us ‘Khuda Gawah’: Afghanistan Mourns the Death of Sridevi
In Khuda Gawah (1992) Sridevi played a double role of an independent, free-spirited Afghan woman and her daughter.
Social media is flooded with condolences for actor Sridevi’s family, after her untimely death. The English Vinglish actor, who reportedly died of heart ailments in Dubai on Saturday, 24 February, will be remembered for ages.
While her fans in India and even Pakistan, are aghast at her passing, Afghanistan too joined in the hordes of fans and admirers who mourned her sudden demise.
News of the actor’s death dominated social media in Afghanistan all day on 25 February, with many reminiscing about the time they saw Sridevi essay the role of an Afghan woman on screen in a 1992 film.
In Khuda Gawah, Sridevi played a double role of an independent, free-spirited Afghan woman and her lookalike daughter. She was praised for her dual portrayal of a fierce woman motivated by revenge and her stubborn daughter, who travels to India to search for her father.
The movie boasted an array of stars, including Amitabh Bachchan, Danny Denzongpa, and Nagarjuna and is hailed by many Afghans for being instrumental in enhancing the cultural image of Afghanistan in India.
Yaqoob Nassari, an Afghan film star and actor, mourned the star’s demise. "I do share my deep condolences with her family, relatives, fans and all of India,” he said, adding that she had worked in films that had great messages.
Khoshal Khalil, a political analyst, said that Hindi films in the past had shown a good image of Afghanistan, which was symbolic of the relations between India and Afghanistan. “Khuda Gawah is a good example of these films,” he said.
While Hindi movies have always been popular in Afghanistan, Khuda Gawah “ran to packed houses for 10 weeks in Kabul,” as per a BBC report.
Javed Hamim Kakar, chief editor of Pajhwok Afghan News, said: “Most Afghans love Indian cinema.” And Sridevi was particularly loved. “She was very popular due to Khuda Gawah, a movie that showed the Afghans’ courage, friendship, and hospitality to the audience.”
The impact that Khuda Gawah, and by implication Sridevi, had on Afghanistan was best summed up by Dr Shaida Abdali, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India. In an interview with journalist Zirak Faheem, Abdali said movies like Khuda Gawah were a sign of the flourishing Indo-Afghan relationship.
Dr Abdali said that the actor “will be missed and long remembered for her role in the great Indo-Afghan movie Khuda Gawah... From Kabuliwallah to films like Zanjeer and Khuda Gawah, the Hindi film industry has always been positive towards Afghanistan.”
Sridevi’s grace and acting prowess made her one of the most versatile actor to ever grace Indian cinema. Whether it was her role of an amnesiac who regressed to a child in Sadma (1980) or a mother seeking revenge from the men who raped her daughter in her last film Mom (2017), Sridevi managed to win both accolades and hearts. It is no wonder that news of her demise has generated such sorrow across the world.
(Zirak Faheem, Priyanka Bansal and Priyale Chandra are students of Convergent Journalism at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia. Additionally, Zirak Faheem is a journalist from Afghanistan and has translated the messages from Pashto to English)
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