Central Asia



Kosh Ba Kosh

A social drama. "Kosh Ba Kosh" is a term that refers to disputable situation in the ancient Tadzhik dice game and it means "let’s play it again." A father lost his daughter Mira in the game to a young man named Daler. Everybody understands that it is a joke but Daler insists on keeping his winnnings and takes Mira to the mountains, where he works as a funicular driver. The romantic love story between Daler and Mira is intermingled with the reality of the civil war.

The opening caption of the film Kosh Ba Kosh states: "Dedicated to all women we love." And the shoe fits since this is one of the most romantic love films I have ever seen. The viewer leaves the movie theater, humming a love song and feeling that an incredible sense of lightness, flight and beauty is living in him or her. The images of Daler and Mira riding in the funicular, spinning around a fountain, making love in a glass mansard create its own, independent universe. Gunfire, curfew, corpses floating in the city canal, and tanks on the streets are elements of another existence.

This division reminded me of Mirche Eliade’s definition of the two archetypes of human habitat: holes and nests. Thus, the film exists in these two spaces of holes and nests.

The first part of the film is set in a city environment of parks, apartments, houses, etc. Gunshots fire from time to time and curfew begins every evening. People move from place to place, running for short stretches and constantly looking around. Men play dice, hiding behind fences, and women hide inside their homes. This is an old city with thick clay fences. This is the space of holes, war, and anger.

The second part of the film unfolds in the mountains, at the funicular station. Young men bring their girlfriends here. Daler and Mira spend their time here, too. One establishing shot of the funicular station above the city emphasizes the nest image. The lover prepare their breakfast. They cook eggs in a test tube. Everything here is light, graceful and clear like the mountain air itself. They kiss and joke in this nest of youth and love.

For some time these two worlds do not clash. In the evenings the lover watch the glare of machinegun fire piercing the city but it doesn’t bother them. The two spaces are connected by the funicular road. The first point of the road is the destination of love and at the bottom is the place of death.

The scene of the father’s death is depicted expressively and effectively. The father comes up to the "nest," brings some money and suggests that Mira and Daler emigrate as soon as possible. Daler disagrees. The father leaves. A narrative voice starts to count in Tadzhik: "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…" When the father is riding a funicular down, a random gunshot hits him and he falls dead on the floor. The editing accentuates how fast time is running now: autumn turns into winter; a group of men carry the body of the father to the cemetery; Mira wears a white mourning scarf on her head (a symbol of an adult woman). The counting stops when she, all dressed in mourning white, returns to the funicular station, and instead of emotional support, finds Daler playing dice.

Mira is a tuning fork of life. When she is happy, the world around her will thrive. When she is hurt, the world around her sinks into insanity and destruction. 

Men and women during the period of civil war: men play dice, fight, shoot guns and go to war; women cook, wash laundry and mourn for the dead.

It is paradoxical and amazing how Bakhtiyar Khudoinazarov, the film director, told this very romantic love story with a background of civil war. The last sequence is very symbolic:

MIRA: I know why I came here. I came here to bury my father

DALER’S FATHER: No, I think that you came here, so this clumsy buffoon with a long nose will chase after you on his bike.

LAST SHOT: A car is riding around a fountain. Mira sits in a passenger’s seat. Daler is chasing after her on his bike. A weather forecast Caption comes up: "Dushanbe +14Cº – +18Cº"

Kosh Ba Kosh


1993, 98 minutes, color

Director: Bakhtiyar Khudoinazarov

Screenwriters: Bakhtoyar Khudinazarov and Leonid Mahkamov

Cinematographer: Georgi Dzalayev

Music by: Akhmad Bakayev

Cast: Daler Madzhitov, Pauline Esparsa Galvel, Bokhodur Jurabayaev, Alisher Kasimov, Rakhmankul Kurbanov.


Awards and Participation in Film Festivals

Award of the Silver Lion at Venice Film Festival, 1993

Grand Prize at the Saint-Petersburg Film Festival, 1994

Gulnara Abikeeva, 2003

Back to Central Asian Special/ Index