Thursday, September 4, 2008


So if India is the exotic oriental fantasy of the West then what is India's fantasy of an exotic and oriental land? Central Asia, of course!

Miss Talibonita's daddy is an avid Bollywood fan and luckily for us, daddy's collection has some rare black and white finds, which will be posted up in parts.

Kabuliwala is a 1966 production featuring Balraj Sahni as the Afghan Almond/Pistachio seller working in India to make money to take care of his daughter. Never read the Tagore story "Kabuliwala" or Man from Kabul, so can't say if it is close to the text. But this fantasy of Afghanistan as wild, bearded (in this film with some bad stage beards!) and poor is rather interesting and continues to be repeated in Bollywood.

What makes Miss Talibonita laugh is the presence of cactus in this nostalgic song about Afghanistan.

Here is an excerpt from the story:

"A Kabuliwallah! a Kabuliwallah!" Sure enough in the street below was a Kabuliwallah, passing slowly along. He wore the loose soiled clothing of his people, with a tall turban; there was a bag on his back, and he carried boxes of grapes in his hand.

I cannot tell what were my daughter's feelings at the sight of this man, but she began to call him loudly. "Ah!" I thought, "he will come in, and my seventeenth chapter will never be finished!" At which exact moment the Kabuliwallah turned, and looked up at the child. When she saw this, overcome by terror, she fled to her mother's protection, and disappeared. She had a blind belief that inside the bag, which the big man carried, there were perhaps two or three other children like herself. The pedlar meanwhile entered my doorway, and greeted me with a smiling face.

Ahem! We wash our clothes, thank you very much Mr. Tagore! And WE DO NOT EAT CHILDREN. For your information, we prefer fattened up Midwestern ladies whose flesh are sweet from all the Little Debbie treats they graze on all day.

All that aside, Miss Talibonita's fav Bollywood Pathan is:

Pran as the Khan in Zanjeer (1973)
He makes his grand entrance in squeaky fresh-pathan-made-leather shoes... and kicks everyone's butt!


Vain and Vapid said...

Lady you're so funny, I love that your interests include "Kyrgistan" and your favorite music is 8 Bit... you really crack me up....

Talibonita said...

What Kyrgistan and 8bit have nothing in common? hehe its all in the eyes!! VV you rock my socks!

Zia Aatash said...

This is my favorite story by rabindranath tagore. recently i heard Afghan Film maker Atiq rahimi wants to remake this movie in India.

Talibonita said...

Oh! If Atiq Rahimi remakes this film, it will definitely have a more nuanced Afghan character.