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Barber-turned-rapper Sayed Jamal Mubarez Crowned winner of ‘Afghan Star’ in Talent Show

Sayed Jamal Mubarez from Afghanistan's long-marginalized Hazara ethnic minority won viewers over with lyrics capturing both the hope and despair of youth

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Zulala Hashimi, 18, right, and Sayed Jamal Mubarez, 23, finalists of the music contest "Afghan Star," rehearse for the show in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 19, 2017, VOA
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Kabul, March 22, 2017:  A barber-turned-rapper has been crowned the winner of an Afghan talent show that offered its audience some relief from daily stories of insurgents and suicide bombs.

Sayed Jamal Mubarez, from Afghanistan’s long-marginalized Hazara ethnic minority, won viewers over with lyrics capturing both the hope and despair of young people living through a war against Taliban militants now in its sixteenth year.

Afghan Star, modeled on singing contests popular across the world, is in its 12th season on Afghanistan’s biggest private television network, Tolo.

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This year’s edition stood out after a woman — 18-year old singer Zulala Hashimi from the deeply conservative east of the country — reached the final for the first time, defying widespread attitudes against female performers.

But Mubarez emerged the winner later on Tuesday, looking every bit the budding rapper with his tilted red baseball cap and razor-trimmed beard.

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“I am so happy. … I would have been happy if Zulala had won it because in Afghanistan women are living in a restricted situation,” the 23-year old said after accepting his award at a television studio housed behind wire-topped blast walls in Kabul’s diplomatic enclave.

The sole breadwinner at his home in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Mubarez said he discovered rap in Iran and spits lyrics while cutting hair.

The contest has been held inside a fortified compound for the last two series after the Taliban last year killed seven Tolo employees in a suicide attack on a staff minibus.

Newer musicians can struggle to make it big in Afghanistan, where the Taliban once banned music and many disapprove of Western-style popular culture, and artists often seek the safety and freedom of a life abroad.

Mubarez told Reuters he intends to turn professional if he can find financial support, and would otherwise return to his barber shop while rapping on the side. (VOA)

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Karun Nair Opens Up Over New Opportunities in His Life

Nair has had a moderate IPL so far, scoring 246 runs in 11 matches at 24.60.

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Nair has had a moderate IPL so far, scoring 246 runs in 11 matches at 24.60.
Nair is currently playing for Kings XI Punjab in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL). wikimedia commons

Back in the Indian Test cricket team after more than a year, middle-order batsman Karun Nair says he is now working to become an all-format player in future.

The 26-year-old Karnataka right-hander will replace Virat Kohli in the Indian team, which will take on debutants Afghanistan in Bengaluru from June 14-18.

Captain Kohli will play for English county side Surrey during that time to prepare for the England tour later this year.

Nair is currently playing for Kings XI Punjab in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).

“I am really excited to be wearing those whites again and representing my country has always been an honour and privilege. I am really looking forward to it,” Nair told IANS in a telephonic interview.

“I have worked really hard over the last one and half years. My form in the IPL and the way I have batted, I consider myself an all-format player and it’s just about getting those opportunities and making the most of them,” said Nair when asked about common perception that the Karnataka willower is a Test specialist.

“It’s just that finding a spot in the one day team is difficult. I need to do better to get those opportunities and I am on the right track. I will do everything I can with the bat to make sure I play all formats,” he said.

Nair, who scored an unbeaten 303 against England in the fifth test in Chennai two years back, will lead the India A side in the four-day matches in the UK. For India A’s One-Day tri-series assignment in the UK, he has not been picked.

Back in the Indian Test cricket team after more than a year, middle-order batsman Karun Nair says he is now working to become an all-format player in future.
Karun Nair will lead the India A side in the four-day matches in the UK. wikimedia commons

“I am really happy to be leading the team. It’s a great opportunity for us as a team to be playing in England and learning how to play cricket in England,” said Nair, who played his last Test against Australia in Dharamsala last year before being dropped to accommodate Rohit Sharma in the playing XI.

“We need to learn to adjust to those conditions. For me as a captain, we have a talented bunch of youngsters who are really exciting,” he added.

Nair has had a moderate IPL so far, scoring 246 runs in 11 matches at 24.60.

Talking about Kings XI who are experiencing a downturn after losing four of their previous five games, Nair said it’s time to get their act together at the business end of the season. Punjab have 12 points from 11 matches.

“It’s almost the business end of the tournament. So we need to get our act together,” he said.

“The matches that we have won, we have completely played as a team. Individual performances have helped like K.L. Rahul has batted exceptionally well in some of the games.

“Chris (Gayle) has also batted superbly in few games. But it has been a collective effort overall,” Nair said.

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Nair also lavished praise on Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, saying he has done exceedingly well in his first year as captain.

“It’s been brilliant under Ash. He has done exceedingly well as a captain and to be captaining in the IPL for the first time, he has done exceptionally well,” he said.

“He has always been a smart cricketer, if you look at his bowling he always has different plans for different batsmen and he can change it anytime during the game. He takes wise and quick decisions which is definitely needed in T20 cricket. I hope we win more games under his captaincy.” (IANS)