- Title: AFGHANISTAN: New television series, 'The Ministry' pokes fun at government
- Date: 8th August 2011
- Summary: KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (AUGUST 3, 2011) (REUTERS) AFGHAN ACTORS DURING A FILMING OF "THE MINISTRY" ACTOR PORTRAYING SECURITY GUARD HOLDING GUN DURING FILMING ACTORS PERFORMING ACTOR CRYING CLAPPER BOARD VARIOUS OF DIRECTOR SPEAKING TO ACTORS ACTOR HOLDING GUN (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) ACTOR PLAYING THE MINISTER OF HECHLAND, ABDUL QADIR FAROKH, SAYING: "We are the mirror of the community. Those people we play, their personality is reflected through us. We are reflecting their true personality. So we should play their role in order to reform them." VARIOUS OF ACTRESS SAHAR PARNIYAN GETTING HER MAKEUP DONE (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) ACTRESS ON "THE MINISTRY" SERIES, SAHAR PARNIYAN, SAYING: "I play the role of a women-rights defender, and in general the message of this series is a reflection of the administrative corruption and other problems our country is facing." KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (AUGUST 4, 2011) (REUTERS) TELEVISION SHOWING "THE MINISTRY" VARIOUS OF MEN WATCHING PROGRAM (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) RESIDENT OF BADAKHSHAN PROVINCE, FRIDON HAKIMY, SAYING: "I hope all the ministers watch this series and learn lessons, as this series is helpful in reforming society." MAN HOLDING PRAYER BEADS (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) RESIDENT OF KABUL, ABDUL JALIL QAYOMI, SAYING: "This series helps people to understand the reality of society, the ministers who come from abroad and occupy the post here, work only to make illegal money for themselves and build property. They are not serving the country." VARIOUS OF KABUL STREET
- Embargoed: 23rd August 2011 08:50
- Location: Afghanistan, Afghanistan
- Country: Afghanistan
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACZO066Y2ZDALOHD5239MZJA19
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Britain and the United States poke fun at incompetent, arrogant middle managers in the television comedy "The Office", but in Afghanistan the target is a fictional minister of garbage in a new series called "The Ministry".
Instead of a series mocking drab office life in impoverished Afghanistan, where there is widespread unemployment, "The Ministry" mockumentary puts a satirical spin on some serious issues such as corruption, drug trafficking and nepotism.
Reuters television filmed the actors in action during the shooting of an episode of the series.
Dawlat is the arrogant minister for garbage in Hechland, which translated from Dari means "Nothing Land".
In a trailer posted on Youtube, which has already been viewed more than 56,000 times in a week, the minister says that the story of his rise to power was too long to explain.
"We are the mirror of the community. Those people we play, their personality is reflected through us. We are reflecting their true personality. So we should play their role in order to reform them," said Abdul Qadir Farokh, who plays Dawlat, while sitting at his large desk in front of a coloured map of Hechland that resembles a cracked car windscreen and the country's green flag with a yellow star.
The actress playing the secretary to the minister said the storyline follows very much what the country is facing.
"I play the role of a women-rights defender, and in general the message of this series is a reflection of the administrative corruption and other problems our country is facing," said 19-year-old Sahar Parniyan, who plays the man-hating secretary.
The show features a vain adviser to the minister -- whose father was minister for higher education, although he says that had nothing to do with him getting the job -- and a highly educated butler who laments his job because he doesn't "have any connections in the ministry" to allow him to be promoted.
Real-life Afghanistan is embroiled in a decade-long war against Taliban-led insurgents, it supplies more than three-quarters of the world's opium and, according to watchdog Transparency International, has public sector corruption worse than any other country except Somalia and equal to Myanmar.
Men were glued to the television screens when the first episode aired.
"I hope all the ministers watch this series and learn lessons, as this series is helpful in reforming the society," said Fridon Hakimy, resident of Badakhshan province.
Another viewer hope the ministers will serve the country like they should.
"This series helps people to understand the reality of society, the ministers who come from abroad and occupy the post here work only to make illegal money for themselves and build property. They are not serving the country," said Kabul resident Abdul Jalil Qayomi.
Producers said "The Ministry" is a revamp of an Afghan series called "Hechland" and, while inspired by the documentary-style filming of "The Office", it was not copying the show.
"It is covering sensitive subjects, current subjects that are going on now so political corruption, nepotism, things of that sort. So at the same time we hope to broaden the horizons of the average persons that would be watching this and maybe show them what types of things might be going on in their own government because a lot of things are very true, things that happen," said Abazar Khayami, the senior comedy producer.
The first eight-episode season following daily life in the ministry premiered on Afghanistan's TOLO TV on Thursday (August 4).
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