Osama (2003) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • After the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the restriction of women in public life, a pre-teen girl is forced to masquerade as a boy in order to find work to support her mother and grandmother.

  • The Taliban are ruling Afghanistan, they being a repressive regime especially for women, who, among other things, are not allowed to work. This situation is especially difficult for one family consisting solely of three women representing three successive generations. All the males in their family have died in various Afghani wars. The mother had been working as a nurse in a hospital, but regardless of she not being allowed to work, the Taliban has cut off funding to the hospital. The mother and grandmother make what they feel is the only decision they can to survive: they will have the preteen daughter masquerade as a boy so that she can get a job to support the family. The daughter, feeling powerless, agrees despite being scared as if the Taliban discover her masquerade, she is certain they will kill her. Partly as a symbolic measure, the daughter plants a lock of her now cut hair in a pot so that her lost femininity can flourish. The only people outside the family who know of the ruse are the milk vendor who employs the daughter - he who was a friend of her deceased father - and a local boy named Espandi who recognizes her despite her outward change in appearance. Espandi renames her Osama. The masquerade becomes more difficult when the Taliban recruit all the local boys to school, which includes military training.

  • Because of the wars a huge number of women in Afghanistan have lost their husbands, fathers and sons, and have no breadwinners anymore for their families. As the Talibans have imposed very strict regulations for women's clothing and limited their possibilities to move around outdoors, it is almost impossible for women to get paid jobs. On the brink of starvation one widow decides to change her daughter into a boy, by cutting her hair and changing her cloths. A friend of her deceased husband employs the disguised girl in his little snack bar. Some days later the Talibans start recruiting young boys by force to their Koran schools. Also the disguised girl is taken away. Soon the other pupils suspect that she is a girl. A street boy, who knows her true identity, tries to protect her, by assuring that she is a boy with the name Osama, but in vain. The Taliban teachers put her on a torturing test. When blood is dripping down her legs, they know for sure that she is a girl. They take her to a judge, who sentences her to marry old Molla Sahib. He locks her up in his big house in the countryside, together with the wives he already has.

  • A 12-year-old Afghan girl and her mother lose their jobs when the Taliban closes the hospital where they work. The Taliban have also forbidden women to leave their houses without a male "legal companion." With her husband and brother dead, killed in battle, there is no one left to support the family. Without being able to leave the house, the mother is left with nowhere to turn. Feeling that she has no other choice, she disguises her daughter as a boy. Now called 'Osama,' the girl embarks on a terrifying and confusing journey as she tries to keep the Taliban from finding out her true identity. Inspired by a true story, Osama is the first entirely Afghan film shot since the fall of the Taliban.

  • In Afghanistan, during the Taliban regime, women are forbidden to work and to walk on the streets without the company of a male. The teenager girl Osama cuts her hair and dresses like a boy to get a job and support her widow mother and grandmother. There is no men in her family, since her father and her brother were killed in previous Afghan wars, and the family has no means of survival. When Osama, disguised as a boy, is called by the Taliban to join the school and military training, the boy Espandi tries to help her.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • She is a female so she has to disguise herself... Osama is one of the most impressive film which I have watched. Firstly I want to mention that there is no further similarity although the title of the film highlights an allegorical relevance to Osama bin Laden. It is a 2003 film made in Afghanistan by Siddiq Barmak. It is about a girl living in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime who disguises herself as a boy, Osama, to support her family. It was the first film to be shot entirely in Afghanistan since 1996, when the Taliban regime banned the making a movie. The film is an international co-production between companies in Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland and Iran. The simple story follows a young Afghani girl who's forced to assume the identity of a boy in order to support her mother and grandmother (all the male members of the family are dead). They are three female in a family so the situation is really difficult for one family consisting of solely three woman. Her mother and grandmother find a solution for surviving. Osamas hair is cropped and wear like a man. Because, people will always believe their own eyes. She assumes the name Osama, and quickly finds a job. Things go wrong when all the boys in her village are collected and sent to a religious school which also operates as a Taliban camp. So, she also goes to this school. At this training school, they are taught how to fight and how to treat to their wife when they marriage. Osama tries to avoid especially from cleaning period of this training. Because, everyone can understand her female body. But then, her secret is eventually discovered when she menstruates. Osama is arrested and put on trial and her punishment is marriage to an old Mullah who has three other wives and the girl must face a life of misery. Barmak examines the horror and terror of Afghani peoples (especially womens) life under the Taliban regime. The women are banned to participate social life, to work even to walk on the Street without a man. Afghani women are forced to wear Burqa in public life, because according to Talibans thoughts womens face is the beginning of the whole degeneration. We can understand this issue in the film that Osama begins with shaky, handheld coverage of blue-burka'ed women group protesting on the street for a right to work . This scene is a supportive evidence for Talibans thoughts about women. Osama can be only symbol of Afghani women. She reflects the little part of their life. People who want to understand their lifes difficulties, they must deeply analyse every womans life one by one in Afghanistan.

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