Afghan Star

Ratings: 8.60/10 from 5 users.

Afghan StarAfter 30 years of war and Taliban rule, pop Idol has come to Afghanistan. Millions are watching the TV series Afghan Star and voting for their favorite singers by mobile phone.

For many this is their first encounter with democracy. This timely film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives and to become the nation's favorite singer. But will they attain the freedom they hope for in this vulnerable and traditional nation?

This documentary follows the three month process from the regional auditions to the final in Kabul. Behind the scenes at all times we gained unprecedented access to the lives of contestants, fans and producers alike.

Characters like Rafi – a 19 year old local boy from Mazar e Sharif and a classic wannabe pop star. His voice is strong and face is pretty. he has no interest in politics, he just wants his people to wake up – for their souls to come alive again. For the people of Mazar he is a hero. Posters are springing up across the city and the girls are sneaking looks from behind their burqas.

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24 Comments / User Reviews

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  1. Hayley Funaki

    Women dancing on tv and receiving death threats really broke my heart. It makes you look at all the simple things/opportunities you take for granted. Afghanistan is such a beautiful country and I can't wait to see it flourish.

    1. Mohammad Dahnish


  2. Xercès Des Stèles

    who would guess there would be 3 women only in a 2000 people singing competition...

  3. Carolina Ramirez

    Why want to kill someone for moving (dancing) onstage, it is a natural human reaction to move ones arms and legs to express something. Why not make us without such movements if they were meant to be kept limb.

  4. Bevappha Sanam

    Real Afgan Star is that small boy who appears at start in documentary. His voice is really good.

  5. fonbindelhofas


  6. Charlotte86

    This isn't so shocking, Pop Idol and Star Academy shows have been on in the middle east for years. This is probably more directly influenced by these shows than by American Idol explicitly.

  7. TriforceV

    Ohh Yay!,
    So essentially democracy for Afghans means the can choose between contestant A or B on a Pop idol contest.
    Your very welcome Afgans for the War to free your people!, now you can be just like Americans with your unlimited freedom in meaningless choices that distracts you from making any meaningful one.

  8. Karen Louise Reid

    Fantastic. Music has always been the revolutioniser of the world.

  9. Getz

    "their first encounter with democracy" ?!? STOP taking money off of their mobile phones! THAT would be democracy! This is just a western money scam. Stop this BS! Democracy is not the freedom to choose WHAT TO BUY! Democracy is to get it free! THAT IS THE REAL DEMOCRACY! and we WILL get it sooner or later no matter how hard the battle will be!

  10. hpthoroughbreds

    the taliban should get a load of billy preston dancing in the first minute and a half of "before the music dies" yowza!!! (doc on this site)

  11. Sad_Panda_99

    these comments are f--ked, this is the most hopeful thing i've seen about Afghanistan for a long time, are you all seriously trying to say, that as it is about a 'western' style tv talent show, being made in Afghan, somehow the west has destroyed their culture. You make me sick, this is a documentary about hope and freedom, and you try and piss all over it. I didnt exactly see them huge groups of ppl flocking round a 30 year old tv that was barely working to watch Jersey Shore.

  12. David Brown

    I find the images disturbing. It is not due to the fact that, it is a national, homegrown, democratic experiment that people may like or not and make fun of or laugh along with (which ever you prefer in a multicultural/democratic/liberal/ freedom-loving society or whatever you call it), but due to that fact that this could not have come at a worse time for the afghan people. Let's be honest, democracy as we know it in the West, in its American Idolized form, is the best we have made out of democracy. It is truly disturbing you see: Why would a democratic society need to play or simulate that it votes for a charismatic idol through their mobile phones?

    Ok, lets take the afghan case one could say: "Oh but you see, these are traumatized people who have been through the worst, so let's try to make their suffering a little bit lesser, here, have a mobile phone, and a t.v. and please enjoy democracy". Aside from the fact that "the worse" was a direct result from constant western intervention in its liberal-democratic-ideal way and that foreign troops (yes,many European and from the U.S.) remain on afghan soil, is it possible for us to say, as "democratic citizens" that "Oh, don't worry, sooner or later you will have complete democracy" A kind of Democracy with a capital "D", democracy you could have never conceived of under evil fundamentalist rule, and all that other bullshit that is presented as the ultimate formula for democracy. NO. This will not happen, Afghan Star is as good as it gets.

    On the other hand, we can ask, What can t.v. shows like Afghan Star tell us about the U.S., for example? I think cultural hegemony or whatever is a cheap answer (if you want to debate this, just check out any popular Japanese or Korean t.v. show, the West has been way outdone in plasticity), rather we can look at some of the things that have already been said; with comments like "Oh no, you shouldn't say that, you're spoiled, self-righteous and blah blah". What is truly being said? That we should feel guilty about the whole afghan situation? I find it even more spoiled to say "Oh, poor things, let them have Afghan Star". I can only state personally that just because I have learned to live in this playful and tranquil democratic game were people vote through mobile phones as an alternative to real free (not loaded with tons of corporate money) democratic elections, doesn't mean that the afghan people should do the same.

    1. adilrye

      What is so offensive about a singing contest? It's something people enjoy. What, they shouldn't have it because of some cultural relativist belief that emulating anything from another culture is inherently terrible? That's basically what this is. Some sort of undeserved snobbery, amounting to people like you looking down at people like them for enjoying something because it's "beneath you."

      I find that just enjoying life seems to be a crime among TDF users. As if all you can acceptably do is be mad at everything and everyone.

    2. Charlotte86

      You come across as a "Typical spoiled westerner" when you tell people to just "enjoy life". Not everyone on the internet is from the west and not everyone can afford to just pretend there aren't awful things going on in the world and ignore them.

    3. adilrye

      I was speaking in relation to the Afghans. Why can't they enjoy life, have some fun, lighten up and spend time with family or friends watching a show they love? Why is that a crime?

  13. adilrye

    Wow. I'm really dumbfounded by these comments. Really? Afghan Star is worse than a brutal war that has been waged for decades now? Really, a national singing contest is truly so terrible that it replaces "war and strife" as the worst thing on Earth? You people seriously need to lighten the hell up and get lives. Honestly.

    It's funny how these Afghans who've actually lived through the worst of the worst, war, dictatorship, imperial proxy wars, insurgency, terrorism find a light away from the dark with an innocent show like this, but ignorant self righteous people like you, who "claim" to care so much about their lives and cultural integrity/purity act as if this show represents something worse than their past. It's funny, but it's probably because the Taliban banned music that a show like this has struck a chord with so many people. Of course, none of you would know what that feels like.

    Give me a break. It's not out of concern for them, it's because you think a show like this is "beneath you" and you're too intelligent to sit back and enjoy something. Truly infuriating.

  14. Tom IronMan Drane

    No longer do I fear the future holds constant war and strife. I now truly fear that wherever you go in the world there'll be nothing but trendily dressed know-nothing popstar wannabees. Can't bring myself to watch it I'm gonna go rock back and forth and cry in a corner instead.

    1. hpthoroughbreds

      for goodness sake. try to lighten up a little there my friend. i think there's room in the world for some pure escapism. everybody from their own different points of view want to profess the world is going to hell in a handbasket.. we all know there are very serious problems EVERYWHERE that need to be addressed. having some fun once in a while is good for the soul....not everyone wants to be a "pop" idol or "wanna" this particular part of the world i should think the people might be feeling the same as when the renaissance brought light to the dark ages. would your response be, oh, shit now everyone thinks he's a sculptor, painter, musician, scientist....relax, take a deep breath. it's not ALL bad out here.....i found myself grinning like an idiot(go ahead take the bait) watching their smiles and the light on their faces and in their eyes....remember, a "pop" idol once said "Let It Be"...peace

    2. Ellen Johnston

      Then why comment if you've not watched it?

  15. PavolvsBitch

    I'm not going to watch this as I know my reaction, my gut reaction in advance. This is democracy huh? These intelligent cultivated peoples are being slaughtered by barbarians and those barbarians are 'us'.

    1. hpthoroughbreds

      you should give it a shot. know where you're coming from but i think you may be at least a little surprised. thanks

  16. Dreamsky Dance

    Omg..they got rid of the taliban regime and they got even worse imprisonment..

    Pop Idol is NOT democracy its another kind of prison..but the same as taliban regime...

    They would be beter of without talibans without democracy ..without any of that crap...
    Just like they were (and also as "western" world was once before)in small villages or nomadic caravans.. living their life growning and hunting their food telling eachother their storyes and ... simply living...

    Now these poor people are forcefully thrown from taliban pan.. into western cooking pot of imprisonment...And in ...idk.. 2064 theyll sit idle watch "Afgan star" and work for their corporate overlords as content slaves without thoughts of their own.. :P

    sad ..just sad where this world is going to :(

    1. adilrye

      WOW. Maybe YOU try living under the Taliban and then complain about Afghan Star. Give me a break. Typical spoiled Westerner.