I had been quite upset over the completely politically motivated Oscar award for the Best Picture to a rank ordinary, non thrilling, slow paced, average film called Argo, specially in the year when Lincoln was released, and Django Unchained – with its heart in a similar place and with film making par excellence – was released! So when a friend of mine suggested to me that we watch a slightly older film called Charlie Wilson’s War, saying that it was based on a true CIA operations story, I was least interested. I thought that it was one of those films that had been again made to lobby for American ‘heroism’ at the cost of putting another nation down. I couldn’t have been wronger. After seeing the movie, I wondered how I had missed this gem when it was released! Never too late I guess.
Charlie Wilson was an American Congressman (elected 11 times from Texas to the US House of Representatives, from 1972 till 1996) who became the first civilian to be decorated with the Honored Colleague Award by the CIA. He had achieved no less a feat. Almost single-handedly, this man could be credited with bringing an end to the Cold War era and the breaking down of erstwhile USSR (Yes, he was also unabashedly a party loving, womanising Congressman – but he made no bones about it or about hiding the fact).
The film is about how, in less than a decade – starting early 80s when USSR invaded Afghanistan brutally – Charlie Wilson influenced the CIA budget for covert operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan to support the Mujahideen forces and increased the same from a mere 5 million dollars to 10 million dollars initially, and then subsequently to 20, then to 40, then 100, then again to 250, to 500 and finally to a billion dollars! And that, mind you, is what they officially accepted! And all this money was to be used to paradrop high end arms to the common men and boys of Afghanistan so that they could fight the mighty USSR and defeat them! And they did! By firing down hundreds of Russian fighter jets and blowing off almost as many Russian tanks with handheld bombers and high-end guns! Of course, the rest, as they say, is history! The mighty USSR conceded defeat and pulled out of Afghanistan, the Berlin wall came down and USSR broke down!