BBC Radio 4, 18-22 June 2012
Set in the wilds of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, An Everyday
Story of Afghan Folk is based on a soap opera made by and for the Pashtun people of the area.
All the familiar ingredients of soap opera were there: familial conflict between
members of Akbar Khan's (Sagar Arya's) family; his two sons and two wives, Gulnara (Pooja Ghai), and Sakina (Rakhee Thakra)
- one young, pretty and rather scatterbrained, the other old, reliable and unattractive. There was also conflict; as a member
of the village justice committee, Sardar Aka, the village shopkeeper (Madhav Sharma) led the enquiry to find out who had committed
a tribal murder in the village.
As a piece of drama, An Everyday Story was well written, focusing especially
on the interplay between individual characters, all of whom were familiar from other soaps - the dominant father, the submissive
wife, the rebellious children. There were also suggestive thematic ingredients that drove the drama along - for example, the
conflict between old and new values; patriarchy versus liberalism, freedom versus responsibility, and so on.
Despite the undoubted enthusiasm of everyone involved, I did not feel that the drama
made enough of its cultural specificities - the setting is so remote (for western listeners, at least), that the translators
could have perhaps tried harder to analyse its way of life in more detail, so as to promote inter- or cross-cultural understanding.
Nonetheless I applaud the producer Anne-Marie Cole for her efforts in bringing the drama to our attention.