Indonesian singer participates in Afghan Star, a popular music reality show

Afghan Star, unarguably the biggest and most watched music reality show in Afghanistan, has provided platform to many young and promising Afghan singers since its launch in 2005. However, much to the delight of music lovers in this country, this week a foreign contestant also performed on the show.

Agus Pratama, a contestant from Indonesia, who was selected through an online audition for Afghan Star, took part in the top 12 round of the reality show this week, sending local media into a tizzy.

It was a long-cherished dream of Pratama, a 24-year-old budding singer from Jakarta, to come to Afghanistan. Afghan Star gave him the opportunity to fulfill that dream, making him an overnight celebrity in this country.

To the surprise of judges and audience, Pratam sang a popular Pashto song, which was originally sung by celebrated singer Shafeeq Murid. He can sing in both Dari and Pashto language.

The trend of reality shows started in Afghanistan with Afghan Star, which was launched on Tolo channel in September 2005. In the very first season, thousands of enthusiastic youngsters made beeline to take part in the auditions across the country.

The trend of reality shows started in Afghanistan with Afghan Star, which was launched on Tolo channel in September 2005

When auditions for Afghan Star were held across the provinces, many young singers turned up to try their luck. There were tears and sobs when they failed and moments of ecstasy and delight when they triumphed.

The winner of the first season was Shakeeb Hamdard from Dara e Turkman, a beautiful valley in Parwan province. Hamdard released his debut album ‘Mashalla’ in 2007 after his song Gul Dana Dana had become a chartbuster across Afghanistan.

The success of Afghan Star and the tremendous potential of reality shows in Afghanistan forced many to sit up and take notice. “It was a watershed moment in the history of Afghanistan, and Afghan Star managed to set a precedent,” says Maseeh Popalzai, a Kabul-based model and singer.

In 2013, Tolo TV launched another reality show titled ‘Voice of Afghanistan’, based on the Dutch reality show ‘The Voice of Holland’, created by John de Mol. However, ome hardliners in the country found the show promoting waywardness. One of the judges on the show, Aryana Sayeed, was singled out for severe criticism because of her western clothes.

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