Jalalabad, southern Afghanistan. Badshah Khan's granddaughter, Dr. Gulalai Wali Khan, the first female surgeon in Peshawar, visits the gravesite of her beloved grandfather and pays tribute to him: "My grandfather chose to be buried in Jalalabad. He planted a garden here. This was the place he found his peace and made his peace."
Cinematographer Sanjay Agrawal and director/producer Teri McLuhan shooting from an M-17 Russian Military Helicopter (left over from the Soviet/Afghan war) over Kabul and its surrounding region. No film mount was available to secure the HD camera. 400 industrial-duty rubber bands were procured and woven together into a workable frame-like strip from which the camera was suspended. The cinematographer himself was "suspended" over the frame of the door by an orange bungee cord.
President Hamid Karzai with director/producer Teri McLuhan in the Presidential Palace in Kabul following her interview with him. President Karzai met Badshah Khan as a young boy and considers him a hero. His father entertained "the great man" at their home in Kandahar. He recalls some early memories: "He was a very tall man wearing very simple dress and he came to attend a big dinner in his honor. And while there were many things served to him, he only had a portion of an Afghan stew we call shorwa; he refused to eat other things saying his life was going to be tough and that he wanted to restrain himself and eat simple things."
Vox Pop (Vox Populi, voice of the people). A huge crowd quickly gathered as the crew set up the camera for ad hoc interviews in the teaming streets of the old market bazaar of Kabul.
Afghan Films Archives, Kabul. From left: Eng. Latif Ahmadi, director of the archives, and Ahmad Shah, film archivist. We are looking at very rare footage of Badshah Khan being greeted in Sarobi Gorge near Jalalabad. Eng. Latif: "It is the only political, cultural, and social archive in the region. This is the first time in many decades that we are screening this material.This footage is not available anywhere else in the world."
Vox Pop (Vox Populi, voice of the people), India. A group of street performers (several of whom were also police women by profession) at a street festival near Delhi being interviewed about Badshah Khan.
Sardar Gurbachan Singh and Dr. Fateh Chand, Faridabad, India, veteran Khudai Khidmatgars (servants of God, soldiers of peace, also known as "red shirts"), discussing the significance of adhering to nonviolence: "Yes! Yes! This was nonviolence. That they may kill, but we won't. They may harm us, but we won't harm them. This was nonviolence. Not that we should hide in fear. We can kill, but we don't."
Nirmala Deshpande (1929 - 2008): senior Gandhian, parliamentarian, peace activist, and nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 in New Delhi recalling a conversation: "An old friend of mine asked Badshah Khan, 'you learned nonviolence from Mahatma Gandhi?' He smiled and said, 'no, my faith in nonviolence was strengthened by my association with Mahatma Gandhi. I learned peace and nonviolence long back from the Holy Koran.'"
Rajiv Vora: Swarapeeth — Gandhian Center for Nonviolence & Peace, New Delhi — commenting on the life of 6'5" Khan: "He created that force of more than 100,000 extremely devoted soldiers of nonviolence — male and female. He used this quantity into changing the very quality of his culture and he created a counter-culture of nonviolence....[For this] he spent one day in every three days of his 98 years of long life in prison."
M.J. Akbar: leading author, journalist, and publisher, New Delhi — reflecting upon the profound fearlessness of Badshah Khan: "For a man to believe that he could take on the Empire just by the strength of his beliefs, just by the strength of his internal courage, without even raising a stick — to actually make his people believe the moment you become violent you become a stooge; boy was that difficult.
Patwant Singh (1925 - 2009): renowned author, publisher, journalist, and elder statesman, New Delhi — describing "the extraordinary and beguiling mystery" of Pakhtun nonviolent warrior Badshah Khan.
Eknath Easwaran (1910 - 1999): biographer of Badshah Khan, distinguished spiritual teacher, author as well as translator and interpreter of Indian literature — reflecting upon the unique kinship between Badshah Khan and Mahatma Gandhi: "Badshah Khan would read from The Koran and sometimes he would forget his glasses and borrow Gandhi-ji's glasses to read The Koran. I used to think they see eye to eye; and that's why it doesn't matter whose glasses he's wearing."
Ghulam Sarwar with fellow Khudai Khidmatgars (servants of God, soldiers of peace), upon finishing his interview! Charsadda. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North-West Frontier Province), Pakistan. Sarwar: "We never moved an inch from our commitment to nonviolence."
Film crew at Takh-i-bahi, the remains of an old Buddhist monastery, Peshawar Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. From left: cinematographer Sanjay Agrawal; director/producer Teri McLuhan; interviewee Afrasiab Khattak (peace envoy, Awami National Party); camera back-up Saleem Baba Baig; sound recordist & engineer Asheesh Pandya.
Vox Pop (voice of the people). Interviewing a group of young Pakistanis about Badshah Khan in the streets of Peshawar in front of a popular ice cream parlour "Peshawri Ice Cream." Vox Pops were shot throughout Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.
Director/producer Teri McLuhan with 63 veteran Khudai Khidmatgars (servants of God, soldiers of peace, also known as "red shirts") — many over the age of 100 years — in a forest near Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (north-west frontier region of Pakistan), during her interviews with them over the course of several days. One Khudai Khidmatgar, Qudrat Shah: "Until now, our story has not been told."
Lady Husn Afroza, niece of Badshah Khan and a Khudai Khidmatgar (servant of God, soldier of peace), being interviewed at her home near Peshawar. She recalled: "As Khudai Khidmatgars, we knew no fear. We always braved the storm."
The filmmaker takes the shine off her interviewee. Afrasiab Khattak, Peace Envoy, the Awami National Party, being interviewed at Takh-i-bahi ("throne of a spring"), Peshawar Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, north-west frontier of Pakistan. Takhi-i-bahi is the site of the remains of a renowned Buddhist monastery that rises 500 feet above a hidden rocky ridged plain. Khattak: "When one looks at the bloodshed that has taken place in this region, the question arises — where does it come from? We have been victim to our own strategic location, strategic geography, that has put us into the crossfire of Big Powers."
Film crew at Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, north-west frontier of Pakistan, discussing shooting logistics. From left: translator and production co-ordinator Amir Ghazan Khan; director/producer Teri McLuhan; cinematographer Sanjay Agrawal.
Interview with Khan Abdul Wali Khan (1917 - 2006), senior politician, writer, and activist in his home in Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It was the last interview Wali Khan did. Wali Khan was the son of Badshah Khan.