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Kingsley As Karzai?

A combo photo of British actor Ben Kingsley in "The Dictator" (left) and Afghan President Hamid Karzai
“Do you ever think of a movie starring Ben Kingsley as Hamid Karzai?”

That was the question posed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as he interviewed the Afghan president in the United States on May 21.

Karzai replied by noting Kingsley’s award-winning role in the film “Gandhi,” which won eight Academy Awards in 1982.

“He is a great actor, and I would be very happy and honored if he took that role," Karzai said.

Kingsley can currently be seen in cinemas playing the role of a Karzai look-alike in British actor Sacha Baron Cohen’s new comedy, “The Dictator.”

Baron Cohen’s character in the film, Admiral General Aladeen from the fictional North African state of Wadiya, is a caricature of several former international autocrats, including Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of Libya, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, and Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan.

In the film, Kingsley, who is dressed in Karzai’s trademark Afghan karakul hat and robe, plays Aladeen’s treacherous and corrupt Uncle Tamir, who organizes a sinister plot to overthrow the “supreme leader” and turn Wadiya into a democracy and sell its oil interests to foreign firms.

No word yet from the actor on whether he'd like to play Karzai on the silver screen.

At least as the Afghan president, Kingsley wouldn't have to kiss anyone's armpits.

-- Frud Behzan

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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