Happily, I received my own personal copy of “Buzkashi Boys” from the Afghan Film Project really quickly. Upon viewing it, I have to say it is the best $20 I’ve ever spent. It is an extremely well-done movie, and focuses on the coming of age of a pair of good friends in Kabul.
Fawad Mohammadi is completely amazing in this film. Of course, I already knew he was amazing, and remember clearly commenting to folks I’d taken to Chicken Street that he was someday going to succeed, just based on his entrepreneurial spirit and personality. Little did I know he would star in a film which would be nominated for an Academy Award.
If you are reading this blog, go to the following link, right now, and buy the film:
And while you’re at it, go to the following site and donate some cash to help Fawad fly to LA for the award ceremony. The kid was paid $1500 total for his role, and if anyone deserves a bit of charity, it is he.
If you’ve seen the movie, or plan on buying the DVD and seeing the movie, here are some interesting notes:
First, the film was mainly set in Murad Khane, in Kabul Police District 2. Murad Khane was originally a Qizilbash settlement, with the Qizilbash being the ethnic minority which was beholden to the Pashtun Khans to ensure their loyalty. They are famous for their intricate woodwork and chalk drawings, many of which have been destroyed through war, time and neglect. But fortunately, Rory Stewart has formed the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, which is dedicated to restoring this once grand part of Kabul. Aga Khan Foundation is also active in this endeavor.
Murad Khane is highlighted in red
A building known as “Peacock House”, before being restored by Turquoise Mountain
The second location, of great interest to me, is Darulaman Palace, which is also mistakenly known as “The King’s Palace”. Darulaman Palace was once the seat of Afghan Government, being constructed by King Amanullah Khan in the 1920s. Amanullah Khan never ruled from Darulaman Palace, as he was ejected from Afghanistan by radical mullahs from Ghazni before he could.
Darulaman Palace in its heyday
Darulaman Palace today
Darulaman Palace is located on the very south edge of Kabul, and coincidentally, I lived next to the palace for 2 years. Ironically, Sam French, the Director, managed to shoot around the palace without having one single shot with my apartment showing. But you get a terrific view of the Afghanistan National Museum and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock during the movie.
The next significant location where they filmed is called “Sar-e Kotal.” Now this took a bit of finding on my part, since Sar-e Kotal literally means in Dari, “Over the Gorge”. And in the mountainous country of Afghanistan, you cannot swing a dead cat with out hitting a “Sar-e Kotal”. I had narrowed it down to Sar-e Kotal in Parwan, which is on the way to Bamiyan. This, of course, doesn’t fit into the idea of the movie hero having 2 hours to travel there, watch Buzkashi and then get back. It’s at least 2 hours from Kabul to Sar-e Kotal, Parwan.
Then, friend Nawab came up with the epiphany. The Sar-e Kotal they are talking about is in Kabul Police District 17, which is just over the pass from Khair Khana in PD 11 to the Northwest. This place is significant in that I once fell asleep after eating a superb plate of Qabili Pilau in a Panjshiri restaurant there, and on another visit, while eating in the “Rumi” restaurant near where the place they play Buzkashi, I once shared the room with an important government personage, complete with oversized personal security detail. I still have no idea who it was, but it makes for a good story.
Friend Nawab and myself in Sar-e Kotal
I’ve looked for a picture of myself sleeping off my Qabili Pilau induced coma, but friend Zok has a copy of it and can probably produce it at a later date.
I hope that everyone seeing this blog post passes on the information about Buzkashi Boys, Fawad Mohammadi and the effort to fly him to LA to (hopefully) receive his Academy Award. Personally, I don’t see how someone with his moxie and spunk cannot win it. I know that I’m pulling for him.