Sunday morning was not a usual morning for India as citizens woke up to the shocking grim news of Sridevi's sudden demise. Bollywood has lost one of its beloved stars in her. Social media was flooded with condolences for her family and clearly, no one was ready to bid her goodbye. The 'Mom' actress died in Dubai on Saturday, 24th February and was just 54 years old.
And while the entire nation mourned her death, what really touched our hearts is the fact that the first female superstar had loyal admirers in Afghanistan who came together to grieve. Social media in Afghanistan, just like in India, was dominated by the news of the actor's death, with many reminiscing about the time they saw Sridevi in the role of an Afghan woman on screen in a 1992 film, Khuda Gawah.
In the film, Sridevi played a double role of a free-spirited Afghan woman and her daughter, who was her lookalike. She was lauded for her dual portrayal of an independent and fierce woman who was motivated by revenge and her stubborn daughter, who travels to India to search for her father.
The movie featured an array of stars, including Amitabh Bachchan, Danny Denzongpa, and Nagarjuna and has been loved by the Afghans for being instrumental and for having enhanced the cultural image of Afghanistan in India. An Afghan film star and actor, Yaqoob Nassari, mourned Sridevi’s demise, saying, "I do share my deep condolences with her family, relatives, fans and all of India."
A political analyst, Khoshal Khalil said that Hindi films in the past had shown a good image of Afghanistan, which was symbolic of the relations between India and Afghanistan. Khuda Gawah stands as a good example of such films.
Bollywood movies have always been popular in Afghanistan. As per a BBC report, Khuda Gawah "ran to packed houses for 10 weeks in Kabul."
Chief editor of Pajhwok Afghan News, Javed Hamim Kakar said, "Most Afghans love Indian cinema." And they particularly loved Sridevi. "She was very popular due to Khuda Gawah, a movie that showed the Afghans’ courage, friendship, and hospitality to the audience."
The impact that Sridevi's Khuda Gawah had on Afghanistan was best summed up by Afghanistan’s Ambassador, Dr Shaida Abdali. In an interview with journalist Zirak Faheem, Abdali said movies like Khuda Gawah were a sign of the flourishing Indo-Afghan relationship.
Dr Abdali said that the actor "will be missed and long remembered for her role in the great Indo-Afghan movie Khuda Gawah... From Kabuliwallah to films like Zanjeer and Khuda Gawah, the Hindi film industry has always been positive towards Afghanistan."