2000 years back India projected its soft power to Afghanistan and the result was the Bamiyan Buddhas and the Gandhara culture. Now again India is projecting its soft power and what may result are – some Salman Khan clones.
Among the most popular and controversial features on cable are films produced by India’s prolific movie industry. Bollywood has long been a mainstay here thanks to the similarities between the cultures and the fact that many people in Afghanistan understand Hindi and Urdu. But in recent years, Bollywood has abandoned many old taboos, allowing far more erotic scenes and songs than ever before – though the films rarely push beyond PG-13 Hollywood fare.
Prasant Satapathy, an Indian TV producer working in Kabul, says Bollywood’s influence has been a catalyst for change in the Afghan society. Movies such as “Tera Naam” (Your Name), the 2003 Bollywood hit, for example, flopped in India but was a success in Kabul. The movie became so popular here that it inspired everything from hairstyles to fashion trends, sharpening cultural differences among generations.
However, Supreme Court officials say a murder at Kabul University earlier this month is proof that gang violence portrayed in some Bollywood movies has permeated the youth culture here. A third-year medical student fatally stabbed a freshmen allegedly because he was angry that the freshman had grown his hair out like him.
“What happened was imitating Bollywood movies,” says Mr. Mozhdah. “The boy said you shouldn’t have hair like me. After the incident at the university, we said that what happened was because of the cable. Now we have … proof of that corruption.”
University professors say student gangs are cropping up. And Health officials lay partial blame on Bollywood films for a spike in teen delinquency during the last year, as more young girls are fleeing their families with boyfriends to avoid arranged marriages. [Racy foreign films prompt cable ban in Afghanistan]