Afghan Star Logo
|Also known as||Sitara-e Afghan|
|Created by||Tolo TV|
|Presented by||Daud Sidiqi (Series 1-4)
Omid Nezami (Series 4-7)
Mustafa Azizyar (Series 8)
Ahmad Popal (Series 8)
Sajid Janati (Series 9)
Ali Saqi (Series 10)
|Judges||Ustad Sharif Ghazal
|Country of origin||Afghanistan|
|Original language(s)||Dari Persian|
|No. of seasons||10|
|Original channel||Tolo TV|
|Original release||September 2005 – present|
Afghan Star is a reality television show competition that searches for the most talented singers across Afghanistan. The program is broadcast on the Tolo TV channel. Afghan Star premiered in 2005, four years after the fall of the Taliban, which had outlawed singing in 1996; it is one of the most-watched shows in Afghanistan.
The format of Afghan Star is similar to the British Pop Idol or the French Nouvelle Star and their many spinoffs, though it is independently produced and not a licensed adaptation. The program starts with auditions from aspiring singers in their late teens and early 20s. A panel of judges choose the best auditionees and puts them through to the public voting round of the contest. At this stage, each week every singer performs and the viewers vote for which singer they prefer using their cell phones. In every round, whoever gets the lowest amount of votes leaves the competition until just one is left, who is declared the winner.
The first season of Afghan Star was launched in September 2005, with more than 1,000 hopefuls from around Afghanistan gathering to partake in the talent search. The eventual winner of the series was Shakeeb Hamdard from Kabul, who released his debut album Mashalla in late 2007.
Afghan Star season two started in August 2006 with auditions in Kabul, Mazar, Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Peshawar. The talent net was widened with Afghans from Pakistan and Iran encouraged to participate. The second Afghan Star was even more successful than the first, with Najibullah Mahmoudi a 35-year-old man from Mazar voted the winner. He has signed a recording contract with Barbud Music, the same company that released Shakeeb Hamdard's music.
The third season of Afghan Star debuted in October 2007. Auditions were held in Kunduz and Ghazni as well as cities visited in previous series. At this stage, Afghan Star became one of the most watched and talked about shows on Afghan television, regularly attracting 11 million viewers per episode. The high profile of the show meant heightened security was introduced around the studios and contestants of the show. The eventual winner of the third series of Afghan Star was Rafi Naabzada, once again from Mazar.
The fourth season of Afghan Star debuted in December 2008. Changes to the format of the show were introduced, including an extra show broadcast per week. The ultimate winner of the season was Naweed Forugh from Kabul. The second runner-up was Mehran Gulzar and the contestant who become third was Navid Saberpoor.
Afghan Star's fifth season started airing in October 2009, concluding in December of the same year. Auditions were conducted from all the cities visited in previous seasons. However, Nazir Khara and Monesa Sherzada-Hassan (the only female judge) did not return to the judging panel for this series. Instead, Ahmad Fanos became a new judge. Wali Sazesh, a student from Herat was the winner of the series.
"Superstar Or Season 6" season
A special "Superstar" season of Afghan Star was scheduled for 2010. The series only featured contestants from previous seasons of Afghan Star. The eventual winner of the contest was crowned the "Superstar" of all Afghan Stars. The winner of that season was Omid Eltaf.
The seventh season debuted on November 4, 2011. The season was won by Reza Rezai, the second runner up was Mateen Alokozai and the final Runner up was Almas Farahi. The prize for the winner was a new red Rorrola, the second prize was a Pamir motorcycle, and the third prize was another motorcycle. The judges of the season were Qasim Ramishgar, Wajia Rastagar, and Ustad Arman. The music director was Farid Rastagar.
The eighth season debuted on November 2, 2012. In this season, all the judges and host were new. The judges were Wali Fateh Ali Khan, Shahlah Zaland, and Jawad Ghaziyar and the host was Mustafa Azizyar. There were many disputes between the judges, which attracted many viewers. Ramishgar returned later on. The music director was Ahmad Jawad Karimi. The winner of this season was Sajid Hussain Jannaty. Second place went to Haroon Andeshwar, and the runner up was Jamshid Sakhi.
The ninth season debuted on November 1, 2013. The host of the previous season, Mustafa Azizyar, continued to host the show. Qasem Rameshgar returned as one of the judges and the other two, Wali Fateh Ali Khan and Shahlah Zaland, were the same as the previous season. The guest judge was Tahir Shubab. The new music director was Wahid Qasemi. Last years winner, Sajid Janaty replaced Ahmad Popal as the host of Ba Setara Ha. This year's winner was Rabiullah Behzad, a student training to become a doctor. Second place went to Nayeb Nayab from Farah. Third place went to Arash Barez.
The 10th season debuted on October 31, 2014. The judges were the same except Wali Fateh Ali Khan was replaced by Ustad Sharif Ghazal. During the Top 160, Shadkam arrived as the new guest judge of the show. The show concluded on March 21, 2015, with Ali Saqi being crowned as the winner. Second place was Panjshanbe Maftoon, the student of the famous mahali singer Mir Maftoon. Third place went to Elyas Isaar. The show courted some controversy when contestant Hasher Ehsas was accused by District Unknown of plagiarising their song, "Two Seconds After The Blast", in a Wild Card Show on February 13, 2015.
Judges and hosts
The judging panel and the host of the show have changed over the years, but the most recent line-up are as follows:
- Ustad Gulzaman has been a judge on Afghan Star since season one. He is renowned in the music industry in Afghanistan specialising in Pashto songs, and has been recognised as an Ustad in music. He is also an accomplished composer and poet.
- Qasem Rameshgar has been a judge on Afghan Star since season four. Born in Kabul, Qasem Rameshgar attended the Arts Faculty of Kabul University where he studied music. After graduation he went to Russia to study the guitar for 4 years, between 1992 and 1996. He is now the head of the Afghanistan Music Centre, after being involved in music for 27 years.
- Ahmad Fanos has been a judge on Afghan Star since season Five. Originally from Kabul city, Fanos gained a master's degree in communication from Saint Petersburg in Russia. He subsequently studied singing, and released the famous song "Zendage Shor-e-Nazanin Darad". He specialises in Ghazal songs.
- Omaid Nizami participated in Season three of Afghan Star where he made the Top 12. During Season 4, Omaid acted as the co-host for Afghan Star conducting many of the behind the scenes interviews and discussions. However, he was promoted to centre stage as the main host of the series, as a result of previous host, Daoud Siddiqi's departure to the United States (See below). He returned as the main host of series five.
- Mustafa Azizyar is the current host of Afghan Star since Season 8. It is not known how long he will stay as the host.
- Sajid Janati is the current host of Ba Setarah Ha or With the Stars. He was the host for Season 9.
- Wahid Qasemi is the Music Director of Afghan Star since Season 9. He also helps the Stars with improving their voice for their performances.
Afghan Star documentary
In 2009, U.S. distributor Zeitgeist Films released a documentary film about the third season of Afghan Star. The British-produced film (directed by Havana Marking) won two awards at that year's Sundance Film Festival: World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary and World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary.
The previous host of the Afghan Star TV series, Daoud Sediqi, travelled to the United States in February 2009 as part of the promotion of the film worldwide. Sediqi did not return home to Afghanistan. He instead applied, and was subsequently granted asylum in the United States in June 2009. Previous to working on Afghan Star, Sediqi had been a DJ on Arman FM and a presenter on Tolo TV. He hosted all of Afghan Star's first four seasons, and was one of the most recognised names in the Afghan media at the time.
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