NEW YORK, Oct 20: An American newspaper has published an exciting account about the making of the film on Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, showering praise on T.C. McLuhan for defying dire warnings not to visit Afghanistan as it had become a “no-go area” for Westerners after the occupation by US-led forces in October 2001.
“The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, a Torch for Peace” is to premier in New York on Nov 8 (story published in Monday’s Dawn).
T.C. McLuhan, daughter of Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian communications theorist known for coining terms and phrases like “global village” and “the medium is the message”, spent 21 years to bring the story of Bacha Khan, as the father of the late ANP chief Wali Khan was affectionately called, to the screen.
In a report on Sunday, the Los Angeles Times says that filmmaker Ms McLuhan, a “restless, determined woman, made numerous trips to Afghanistan and other places where the Bacha Khan story unfolded even as American bombs fell in Taliban-held Afghanistan after 9/11 and through the dangerous times that followed”.
Besides Afghanistan, she shot the film in Pakistan and India.
Her account of carrying two canisters of film stock from Los Angeles across several South Asian borders is in itself a memorable story, the newspaper said.
Ms McLuhan told LAT that she made six trips over the Khyber Pass.
“She managed impossibly smooth tracking shots on potholed streets using a makeshift dolly her Indian cinematographer built with skateboard wheels”. A warlord who acted as her guide appears with her in production stills, standing in a rugged Afghan gully. She had her equipment thrown into the street by police. And she kept going back, using her Canadian citizenship and a widening network of connections to make her account of South Asia’s “least known great man”.
For McLuhan, 62, the film completes a journey that started in September 1987 in Berkeley when an acquaintance gave her a book by Eknath Easwaran, who knew Ghaffar Khan.
Ms McLuhan says her commitment to the project grew from her feeling about Ghaffar Khan’s “uncommon greatness. And that was accompanied by, certainly, uncommon courage. I felt a depth of spirit that I simply wanted to know more about”.
South Asian luminaries she interviewed included Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose memory of meeting Bacha Khan as a boy is one of the film’s most intimate moments, and former president Pervez Musharraf, who made it clear he does not view Khan as a patriot, the LAT said.