Lights, Camera, Action: An Afghan’s Dil Hai Hindustani

Security personnel went into a tizzy when Afghan national Aman Ullah Nezami landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here in January.

Published: 31st January 2016 07:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st January 2016 08:56 AM   |  A+A-

MUMBAI:  Security personnel went into a tizzy when Afghan national Aman Ullah Nezami landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here in January. The multi-millionaire owner of the Al-Khalifa chain of restaurants in Saudi Arabia had a five-year visa, a rarity for a non-diplomat foreigner. Nezami, the only Afghan who holds a five-year Indian visa, was awarded the honour as he is the ‘unofficial brand ambassador’ of Hindi movies outside India. The 63-year-old has the largest individual collection of Hindi movies released between 1940 and 1980, and more than 70,000 songs from these movies.

Lights, Camera.jpg“I have 5,670 films. Barring a few, I have almost every movie made in this period,” says Nezami. He has spent crores of rupees on them.

He can name any film’s cast, director, producer, music director and lyrics. He once corrected singer Lata Mangeshkar, telling her that the first song she sung was for the movie Jugnu (1947), not Mahal (1948).

Nezami visits India every year for 22 days to meet his icons in Bollywood. He meets the actors, gifts them a box of dry fruits and has a photograph taken with them. He visits the graves of his departed idols Muhammad Rafi and Meena Kumari.

His father, a die-hard fan of Hindi movies, had a restaurant in Kabul. “I grew up listening to Hindi songs,” says Nezami in Hindi. “I watched my first Hindi film at the age of four. Hindi films have made him half-Indian. “Mera khoon hain Afghani par dil hai Hindustani (My blood is Afghani but my heart is Indian),” he says with a smile.

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