Swedish contestant popular on Afghan version of Idol
"Afghan Star" is a really popular music show on TV in Afghanistan. It's a talent search show kind of like American Idol or Pop Idol in the U.K., except that the security situation in Afghanistan means its risky for the participants. The Taliban is against this kind of music entertainment, and they've threatened the station Tolo TV in previous seasons. This year, one of the show's contestants comes from the Swedish city of Västerås.
Twenty-seven-year-old Ali Saghi is singing "Va Va Leili", a folk song from northern Afghanistan, on the TV show. Saghi is a documentary filmmaker with roots in Afghanistan and was at a film festival in Iraq when he heard that Afghan Star was hosting tryouts.
Saghi tells Radio Sweden he'd been interested in music and acting on film and TV, and had wanted to do it one day, and so he decided to go for it.
From among thousands of contestants, Saghi was selected to be part of the show, and now, he's competing in the 10th season of Afghan Star. He says that because of the security situation in Afghanistan, it's dangerous for contestants, and they have to broadcast from an undisclosed location, under protection. Despite this, many people dream of being on the show, and it's incredibly popular.
Saghi says that people like to see the talent in the program, and that he and his co-competitors get messages and calls from fans. He thinks it's fantastic that people like the show.
"As you know," he says, "there's still war in Afghanistan, and there aren't many programs that make people glad, and so a lot of people want to take part in this kind of program."
But it's not just in Afghanistan that Ali Saghi has become popular. At home in Sweden, he also has a lot of support.
He says that in one of the latest episodes, he got 2,500 votes from one city in Sweden. There are a lot of Aghans in Sweden who watch the program and send him messages, he says, and he can see that they're very interested.