From Kabul, with love


Three teenage girls have set out to change the world's view about their country Afghanistan. Here's how


"Afghanistan is not only about war and bombings and we want to change the world's perception," says the 16-year-old Sahar while 19-year-old Sadaf, and Nargis, 18 nod in affirmation. These three girls have made a 17-minute documentary called 'The Kabul Cards', which shows the brighter side country's capital Kabul. The documentary stresses on the fact that the war-ravaged country has much more to offer than its image of bombed-out sites and terror attacks which the world generally associates it with.

The short film was screened in the newly introduced 'Kabul Fresh' category at the recently-concluded Mumbai Film Festival which showcased different films to highlight the Afghan cinema. The film chronicles the daily life of the civilians which these girls have caught to show the world that the life in the city is pretty much same as elsewhere.

The first seed of the idea to make this film was sown last year when two Norwegians - Christoffer Naess and Anders Smme Hammer got in touch with the three girls to make a film about civilian life in Afghanistan. "They taught us how to handle a camera and we practiced for two weeks before commencing the shoot," says Sahar. Despite the country's negative attitude towards women, it wasn't very difficult for the girls to film people. "When a woman is out on the streets often, they are perceived as a bad one. However, the camera gave us a lot of power. No one dared to tease us or harass us. It was like they would be exposed if they did anything, so we were not troubled."

But the people were more than happy to see these girls taking an effort towards changing the world's perception. "Initially, they would be wary of the camera but when we explained our purpose, they were more than happy to be a part of it. They were happy that their country's image will change from a war-ravaged one to a normal one," she says.

After the first experience, the girls are planning release a longer version of their film next year and what motivates them is the massive response they are getting for their endeavor.  So has Afghanistan really changed? To which Sahar replies, "It is not what it was in 2000. Lot of positive changes has taken place though the bombings continue. We have got so used to the bombings that it is now a part of our daily existence. If I go out in the morning, my family is not sure if I will return alive or not but then escaping from there is no solution. If every youngster thinks of fleeing who is going to bring the change?"