1. My name is Ahmad Shuja Momuzai

    I never thought, when I was younger, that I would be competing for the title in Afghanistan.

    I started body building in 2006. It is a peaceful sport, you know, no fighting. My father was also a body builder but had to stop because of the wars. Anyway, he told me about it and I began training. For the last two years I come second in Mr Kabul.

    I work out 3 times a day. 30 minutes in the morning and evening and 15-20 minutes at midday. If I weren’t dieting I would be pushing 140kg on my arms and 500kg on my thighs. I train in the Iron Man Gym but there are over 500 gyms in Kabul.

    I used to be so skinny, weighing just 60 kg. Now I am 80. I am dieting at the moment as you have to strip down all the fat before building up muscle again otherwise your muscles don’t look good when you pose.

    The trouble is that there are no professional gyms, they are good but there is no investment from the Olympic Committee or the government to make them quality gyms. You pay for the privilege. Last year 16 people won medals in the South Asian games but I think they had to pay for their own tickets to compete. And there are no physiotherapists to help you if injure yourself.

    Anyone can try to compete in a competition, so long as you have a good body. There is no prize – just a trophy, a medal and a certificate. If you win Mr Kabul you are eligible to compete in Mr Afghanistan.

    Again there is no prize but people take it very seriously. Last year, Mr Afghanistan spent more than $10,000 on his body with protein supplements and training over a year. It is an expensive sport and dangerous too. He died and his brother said he was poisoned.

    He was training for Mr South Asia and people were jealous. Sabotage is common amongst body builders. I remember when I was a kid during the communist times there were 52 body builders who were being flown all over the world. Someone killed the pilot on the plane and everyone was killed. It could have been Iranians or Indians who were responsible. Who knows?

    When we saw the attacks in the twin buildings and realised we could go back to Afghanistan we were happy.

    I am not scared though as this is a peaceful sport. That’s what keeps me going. We want to show the world that this is Afghanistan. A strong Afghanistan, a peaceful Afghanistan. And people are inspired by us. Last year at the Mr Kabul competition a policeman asked me where I work out. The next day he joined the gym and stopped smoking cigarettes and hashish.

    When I was younger I used to run and do kick boxing. In one fight I broke my friends nose and stopped after that. If you hit your friend… well it is not good to fight.

    We moved to Pakistan when I was 17 after I was arrested and detained in Pul e Charki prison for being Panshiri. It was tough and I worked in a garment factory to help pay for my brother’s education who were younger than me. It paid off though as two of my brothers are working as interpreters for the military as their English is so good.

    We used to watch beatings and murders on TV from Pakistan. When we saw the attacks in the twin buildings and realised we could go back to Afghanistan we were happy but when we arrived it was hard. The city had regressed. During the communist regime, Kabul was really clean and there were trees and beautiful buildings, none of these horrible poppy palaces. When I was a kid in those times I loved playing with my friends in the gardens at school. The city was a good place. It was peaceful during the Taliban but there was no work and no freedom for women.

    When we returned there was no gas, no electricity. It was almost like a ghost town. Day by day it got better. Security was worsened though. That’s politics for you.

    Life is good now however. It is more like it used to be when I was a child. I love my family, my wife, my son, my sister and brothers. I love my job as a house manager and I love training.

    But what makes me sad is when I hear about suicide attacks. Yesterday there was a suicide attack in Kunduz and 30 people were killed. That is 30 families who will be grieving now. And you know how big Afghan families. It makes me so so sad to think about their loss. A lot of people my age, all they have ever known is conflict and their minds have been affected. They get angry quickly, they argue… you can see it in the roads when they drive, people shout at each other all the time and it makes me sad. That is why I like bodybuilding; you can have huge strength and maintain peace.

    # vimeo.com/54518312 Uploaded 37 Plays / / 0 Comments Watch in Couch Mode
  2. My name is Salim Shaheen

    I am one of the most experienced actors in Afghanistan and I am the head of Shaheen and Qais Film.
    I have been involved in cinema since 1982 and I have made more than a hundred movies both inside and outside Afghanistan. I loved cinema and acting since I was a little kid. It’s my passion. I studied cinema in school but more so practically.

    My first film was called ‘Shekakst Napazir’ (Unbeatable). I was the director, producer, the main actor and I made $2000. I was like, ‘this is business! Let’s make movies!” I have been making better and better movies since then, even during war.

    I have had many problems in my work and I’ve not got to this point easily. Eight people in my crew were killed by the Taliban during the shooting of a film. My company has been robbed and the equipment stolen many times. But we never stopped. We are still making films.

    By the mercy of Allah, my movies have never flopped. I have made good money out of all my movies and my fans increase every day.

    The world needs to know one thing: Bollywood and Hollywood have everything. Security, money, good equipment and everything. We call our business ‘Nothingwood’. But, we win by one point: We love our job more.

    Everyone should love and should be in hearts of all their fans, an actor should be a role model to everyone. I see other actors who drive in the cars and hide themselves from the people like a woman. I tell them, dude, the people make us famous, why should we hide ourselves from them?

    I respect all actors, but I like Rambo a lot. The way he acts is very natural. I have been watching Dahermendra’s (Indian actor) since I was a very little kid. I like his movies. He is a good friend of mine and my teacher. He was the reason that I got into acting and why I am now the great Salim Shaheen.

    ‘Sarzamin Delwaran’ (Gallant Homeland) is one of my most expensive movies. I wrote the script about twenty years ago and really wanted to make this film. It is a very patriotic movie. We want to show the enemies of Afghanistan we want to live like everyone else. It also has a very strong message. It shows to the world that if anyone wants to come to Afghanistan and destroy us they will definitely fail.

    It’s so hard for us to show our films inside the country because all the cinemas show foreign and stupid movies that go against our culture. We have been attacked not only by military, but we have also been attacked culturally, which is a lot more dangerous.

    I think cinema is a very important part of a country. It is a reflector of society. Cinema in Afghanistan has been presented as non-Islamic and against humanity. But, cinema can lead people towards Allah and a better society. There are films encouraging youth to pray and stay away from drugs. I try to have some singing and dancing in the movies I make. I cannot just make movies for the Mullahs. I want to make movies for the youth and change peoples’ way of life.

    # vimeo.com/55249640 Uploaded 32 Plays / / 0 Comments Watch in Couch Mode

Kabul at Work

At Work PRO

Kabul: A City At Work is a multi-media project, led by a joint international and Afghan crew collecting interviews, photographic portraits and video shorts of the people of Kabul in their working environments.

These small yet focused vignettes of Kabul

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Kabul: A City At Work is a multi-media project, led by a joint international and Afghan crew collecting interviews, photographic portraits and video shorts of the people of Kabul in their working environments.

These small yet focused vignettes of Kabul life are a window into the soul of a much-misrepresented city that shows a positive view of the vibrant economic life that exists in Afghanistan.

So far the work has been shown on Afghan TV in the form of a six part TV series.

The characters can also be seen on kabulatwork.tv

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