In celebration of the International Women's month, let us look back at this 2003 Persian film called “Osama” by Siddiq Barmak. The movie was an international co-production between Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, and Iran. It was shot entirely in Kabul, Afghanistan from June 2002 to March 2003, and it was the first to do so since 1996 when the Taliban regime banned the production of all films. The movie’s title may strike as something relevant to Osama bin Laden, but it is entirely different and there is no further similarity to bin Laden.
The film is about an Afghan girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to support her family. It starts when a 12-year old girl and her mother lose their jobs when the Taliban close the hospital where they work. During that time, Taliban have prohibited women to leave their houses without any male “legal companion”. With their father and uncle dead from being killed in the civil wars, the family has nowhere to turn to and the child is then convinced to disguise herself as a boy named ‘Osama’ and soon works in local chai tea shop. Later, the Taliban take local boys, including Osama, from their homes and train them as soldiers. As the school teaches the boys about fighting and ablutions, Osama finds herself in a dangerous predicament. She continues her disguise… until a sign of womanhood shows on her. It is unpredictable. It is undeniable. And it is heart-breaking as the heroine faces an unexpected ending….
The movie is one of the first films I watch that deal with subject matters uncommon to mainstream movies. It is set during the Taliban regime and the movie opens with women protestors being arrested and abused by soldiers. It is very shocking and sad, and viewers will be drawn right at the beginning. It partly chronicles the lives of Afghan women and seeing the discrimination, cruelty and helplessness these women suffer can evoke certain anger to such society.
The movie is sad from beginning to end. Though the heroine escaped death in the end, her freedom is not a “real freedom” at all. The substitute of death has been a miserable life for her. It is truly sad, for she has remained to be the weak and scared girl…