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Afghanistan's embassy raises concerns over the portrayal of Ahmad Shah Abdali in Panipat

The embassy wrote to India's external affairs ministry to say that any insensitive or distorted depiction of the character could be used to provoke the emotions of Afghans and hurt India's ties with the country.

Our Correspondent

The embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi has expressed concern over the portrayal of the 18th century Afghan king Ahmad Shah Abdali in Ashutosh Gowariker’s forthcoming war drama Panipat.

The film sees Sanjay Dutt play the Afghan warlord. The film also stars Arjun Kapoor and Kriti Sanon.

The embassy wrote to the external affairs ministry a day after Panipat's trailer was released the world over and expressed concern over the "insensitive" and "distorted" portrayal of Abdali.

The letter said, “Since the film is related to former Afghan emperor Ahmad Shah Abdali, any insensitive/distorted depiction of his character might provoke emotions of Afghans which could be unfairly exploited by others to adversely affect the trust and harmony that exists so well among the people of the two countries.” 

A newspaper in Afghanistan, Pajhwork Afghan, quoted embassy official Ajmal Alamzai as saying that he had been trying to contact Gowariker. “We have emailed the film director to share the scenario with us, but he didn’t. We have tried several times to contact the director, but failed,” he told the publication. 

Shaida Abdali, a former ambassador of Afghanistan to India, replied to a tweet posted by Dutt on 4 November, saying, “Historically, Indian cinema has been extremely instrumental in strengthening Indo-Afghan ties. I very much hope the film Panipat has kept that fact in mind while dealing with this important episode of our shared history!” 

On Wednesday, the former envoy posted a tweet in praise of Abdali, saying, “Our glorious past, under the ages (sic) of Ahmad Shah Abdali, remains the foundation of our future. To that end, Abdali Foundation is underway to re-visit and re-examine the great vision of Abdali towards a United, Peaceful and Prosperous Afghanistan, and the region!”