Kurbaan

 

It is not about Saifeena alone…

Pic: Dharma Productions; Source: planetbollywood.com

Rensil D’Silva’s directorial debut, Kurbaan thankfully goes beyond the pre-release hype created by the film’s posters and the saree presented to Kareena Kapoor by some Shiv Sainiks. It is a film about the discord between the western world, specifically the USA and the Islamic world. Does it do full justice to the subject of ‘Islamic Jihad’? I don’t think so but it does manage to come out as a gripping thriller with a message.

Kurbaan is about Avantika (Kareena Kapoor), a Psychology professor who marries Ehsaan (Saif Ali Khan), a professor on Islam and its influence on the modern world. Avantika is extremely happy with her life till she discovers a disturbing truth about her husband. From this point onwards the film transforms from a love story to a thriller. The director takes the first forty-five minutes to set up the love story and introduces the other characters; by this time you start getting tired of the slow pace and suddenly the film picks up. There are many twists in the plot, some predictable and some surprise you, leading up to an action packed climax.

The film has many similarities with Kabir Khan’s New York; apart from the basic premise, there are similarities in the plot, however the treatment and the circumstances are quite different. I could not help but compare the two films. While Kurbaan manages to keep the tension alive throughout and the climax is several notches superior; New York scores in creating an emotional connect with the lead characters.

Saif and Kareena are both good in their characters and have a good supporting cast of Viveik Oberoi, Kirron Kher and Om Puri to complete the picture. Kirron’s Afghani accent is not convincing but the fanaticism displayed by her character is. Viveik worked hard on his American accent, which again is a bit annoying but he does a decent job.

Technically, Hemant Chaturvedi’s cinematography is good and so is SalimSulaiman’s music, which does not interrupt the narrative. Screenplay by Rensil D’Silva drags a bit in the beginning but maintains the tension of a thriller in the rest of the film. There are a few loopholes in the storyline and certain decisions taken by the lead characters seem extremely unrealistic but that’s a Bollywood film for you.

Overall, Kurbaan is one of the better films released this year. It leaves much to be desired as far as cinematic excellence is concerned but is a good one-time watch.  

My Rating: * * * Three stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal

 

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New York

 

Entertainer with a message…

Picture courtesy: Yash Raj Films
Picture courtesy: Yash Raj Films

Congratulations Kabir Khan, Yash Raj Films, Bollywood fans and Katrina Kaif. Kabir because he has once again delivered a good film but this time it seems that commercial success will not elude him (the docu-maker’s first mainstream film, Kabul Express was critically acclaimed but didn’t make a lot of money). Yash Raj Films for supporting a project that goes beyond candy-floss romance and run-of-the-mill entertainment; also because their dry run seems to be coming to an end as after Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’s success, this film also has opened well. Bollywood fans because after a long-long time, we have a decent film to watch. And Ms. Kaif who finally got a film where she had scope to act and yes, she delivered!

New York touches upon the subject of post 9/11 prejudices and the human rights violations committed by the US government against ‘suspected’ terrorists. The film focuses on the lives of three friends, Sam (John Abraham), Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) and Maya (Katrina Kaif) and how their lives get impacted after the attacks. The film highlights the plight of 1,200 men from religious minorities who were detained after the attacks for suspected terror connect. Keeping in mind a larger audience, the director keeps the torture sequences to a minimal but impactful.

Performance wise, Katrina Kaif and Irrfan Khan (as FBI agent, Roshan) shine; Irrfan because he is a fine actor and Katrina because you least expect her to. Finally, the actress got a film where she had a well defined character; she was not only convincing as an Indian-American (thanks to her accented Hindi) but was also good in emotional scenes. John Abraham is good and handles the changes in his character well. Neil Nitin Mukesh gets a tough character and it seems too challenging for the new actor; he tries hard but it shows.

There are many loopholes in the film and at times it reminds you of other movies (a scene where Katrina is frisked by a cop reminds you of an important scene from Crash, Oscar winning film on the theme of racism and intolerance) but overall the film comes together, thanks to a taut screenplay by Sandeep Srivastava. Cinematography by Aseem Mishra is first rate and music by Pritam is not memorable at all (top it with plagiarism charges).

I definitely recommend New York as an entertainer with a message. For those who would like to watch other films on similar theme, I recommend Shoaib Mansoor’sKhuda Kay Liye (2007, Pakistan) and Gavin Hood’s ‘Rendition (2007, USA). Khuda Kay Liye is a bold film about religious profiling and the contrast between Islamic extremists and liberals. Rendition focuses on the subject of extraordinary rendition where suspected terrorists are secretly and unlawfully transferred to countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques (read torture). Starring Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Omar Metwally; the film packs extraordinary performances by the cast and a gripping screenplay. Catch these two films on DVD and for now do watch New York at a theatre near you…

My rating: * * * ½ Three and a half stars (on five)

– Shrey Khetarpal