There is a lot of Fanaa in Kurbaan

Posted: November 22, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Kurbaan is clearly a different animal from the Karan Johar stable. I am glad for Karan to have dared to try a different genre. It is an eminently watchable movie!

** Spoiler alert: if you are planning to see the movie, you may not want to read further. Not that I am telling the whole story, but inadvertently, I may mention stuff that you’d rather see on-screen and be surprised! **

Kurbaan is largely based in the US, and with minor changes in skin color, language and characters, could easily have been a niche Hollywood film.

Ok, before anyone jumps on me, I do not think that Hollywood equals greatness or perfection. So by calling Kurbaan a Hollywood-esque film, I am not giving it any exalted status, in that respect. It is just in a matter of story focus, style, genre and a certain thrill that we do not see often, in Indian films, but see in Hollywood all the time.

There are a few slips and questions that one can have, with the movie. And for the record, I will share those later. But for most parts, Kurbaan has an excellent script, maintains good pace, keeps you engaged, and looks quite real. The performances are good, there is minimal waste of footage, and considering the times we live in, it is almost too close for comfort!

Also the story is like Fanaa in many ways. A very smart, handsome and intelligent Muslim protagonist, having an Islamic axe to grind, partly on account of personal history and partly also on account of having been influenced, pretends to be a good lover boy, but ultimately abandons the love, for the “bigger mission”. This paragraph can describe both Fanaa and Kurbaan, so in that respect, they are similar. That both have popular Indian Khan heroes is another coincidence. Or done by purpose, as it may be more credible to the audience? I don’t know. Only Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra would know this with better conviction!

As the titles roll in, you are pleasantly surprised to see the name Vivek Oberoi there. After a long hiatus (by choice or forced due to no offers, not sure!), we see him on-screen. Happy to note that it is Vivek and not Vivekk or whatever it was that he had done with his name. If the return of the name to a normal spelling is an indicator of his return to normalcy overall, then we will look forward to see more Saathiya-s in future! While on the subject of names and spellings, there is Kirron Kher that we also see in the titles. Oh well, maybe the change in spelling worked better for Kiran than it did for Vivek. Long live Sanjay Jumani and Sunita Menon 🙂

The story is simple. Saif Ali Khan woos Kareena (considering their real life connect, perhaps it did not take much to woo her over) in Delhi, where both are college teachers. Gets married and tags along (as a major ‘sacrifice’ by leaving his career behind) with her to the US, when she is called back by her University there. They somehow end up picking a house in an Indian neighbourhood in New York, where the Muslim family across the road, invite them over for dinner. That is when Kareena comes across some strange goings on there, and shares with Saif. Who suggests her to ignore it. Kareena finds out, to her rude shock, that in fact, these guys are a sleeper terrorist cell, and worse, that Saif is very much a part of it. And that, the entire charade of love and marriage was just that. A charade. To get to the US legitimately.

That all of this happens before the intermission tells you that the story does not dwindle.

Saif is also a ruthless killer in his mission and would have not batted an eyelid in finishing Kareena off at this point. Except for the fact that she is pregnant with his baby, and there perhaps, just perhaps, there is a bit of love there. He chooses to keep her alive, but in near house arrest. Kareena had managed to inform about the goings on to Vivek Oberoi, a Muslim journalist, who instead of going to the police, decides to investigate the matter himself. Meanwhile the terror gang – well, a family in fact – led by Om Puri (inimitable style) and his wife, Kirron Kher (great performance, with the Afghani accent and all that) meanwhile plan the bigger plot. A series of subway bombings.

How it all ends up, with the FBI chasing them on one hand, and Vivek and Kareena trying to get them to justice from inside, makes up for the rest of the story.

It is a taut thriller, very unlike Indian films. Not much time or footage is wasted on unnecessary song, dance, romance. Whatever extent it is shown, is almost necessary for the story to move ahead. Well, when director Rensil had the hot Saifeena as the couple, he managed to integrate some hot scenes as part of the story, as these would be done well by the pair “naturally”. Fair enough!

The camera work and lights are used well, especially in the indoor scenes. Saif continues to impress with an excellent performance. Kareena looks awesome and acts very well too. Vivek Oberoi returns with a very credible performance. And as mentioned before, Om Puri and Kirron Kher deliver well, as usual!

Coming to the slips and minor flaws, if they must be pointed out:

1. The initial romance looks just too easy. Was Kareena just waiting to be picked up? Well..

2. There are a fair number of killings – on streets, in subways. The NYPD, FBI are shown to be like Indian cops here. Coming in late to the scene!

3. There is a scene where Saif is asked to go to “level 2” in a building, and he climbs two stories. In the US, level 2 would actually be just one storey up!

4. Nothing is mentioned at the end, about the Indian accomplice of Saif, who was staying and “guarding” Kareena’s father, at their house. A loose end left loose.. !

5. Saif’s character, the part which is interested to keep Kareena alive, is not explained well. Is he is love with Kareena, does he just want to save his baby, or both, is not clear. And why does he want to do that. This is quite crucial, and yet unexplained.

6. Likewise, once Kareena realizes the extent to which she has been “used” by Saif, there could only have been hatred in her mind, for him. She is aware that she is being kept alive, for her baby. And that her father is virtually a hostage back in India. In that scenario, the one scene where she seduces Saif back, can be assumed to have happened with a purpose. To get her hands on some documents from him. But when she nurses his wounds earlier, and at the end, when she cries for him, where did that come from? If she still has some love for him, the motivation for that is just not clear?

So yes, if you see with a microscope, you will find a few such question marks. But you can pardon those, in the interest of a genuine attempt by Rensil to create a very topical thriller, that keeps you engaged for the nearly 3 hours of its duration.

Go, see Kurbaan!

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sanjay Mehta and Sanjay Mehta, Nwaz. Nwaz said: RT @sm63 Liked #Kurbaan, some flaws notwithstanding. *Spoiler: don't read if you plan to see the film! * My views here: […]

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