Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Kurbaan for me is the perfect median Bollywood movie. Or rather the symbol of filmmakers' perception that an audience will buy on-screen stupidity as long as there's a glitzy star cast and some decent music. I specifically remember at the time when Kurbaan was being promoted, the trailers showed a lot of promise and for me it wasn't just because of those two factors but because this was Rensil D'Silva's first movie as a director. Rensil over the years in Bollywood had been a part of films as memorable as Rang De Basanti and even as incredibly bad as Luck. But the RDB connection made me wrongly assume that he would at least make us stand up and take notice if he was taking on a subject as complex as international terrorism.
I sometimes don't understand the need for writers in Bollywood to start a movie by showing how romance bloomed between two people. Especially if the movie is about another subject- terrorism in this case. Consequently, there's little logic in how the Avantika (Kareena) and Ehsan (Saif) meet and fall in love in Delhi University but we have to sit through it. The director might as well have inserted a title card stating the two were in love and we would've bought it but anyway I digress. The threads of the main plot start unravelling only once we get to know that Saif is actually a terrorist who is planning a monstrous attack in US. When Avantika's job takes her to USA, Ehsan tags along and starts working with his gang. And then one day Avantika discovers the real identity of her husband. Ehsan loses no time in house-arresting her but only partially. You see he is in love with her by now. Anyway, by now things are happening at a frenetic pace- new characters get introduced, bombs explode in planes and ordinary journalists like Riyaz (Vivek Oberoi) take it upon themselves to avenge their loved ones death.
If that last line read like a hotch-potch, I think I am getting close to describing the fabric of Kurbaan. A friend once mentioned that guys from advertising sometimes get some really good scenes shot in movies because by nature they're trained to get a 30 or a 60 second commercial spot on during that time. When it comes to movies, the habit sticks with them. So they might just excel in one particular sequence but when they start stitching these scenes for a 2.5 hour movie, the quality drops considerably. It is a good point but I guess for every Rensil D'Silva, we also have a Dibakar Banerjee so the jury might still be out there. In any case, Kurbaan suffers from this lacunae in abundance. There are a few gripping action sequences, tight dialogues and picturesque cinematography at different points in Kurbaan but overall the movie barely comes together.
Saif, Kareena and Vivek - the three main actors all work well, almost convincingly but the fact is that they work with a fractured script all along. Coming on the heels of the smartly made New York, a movie also based on terrorism in the US, Kurbaan needed to leap and set the bar higher. What it accomplished was nothing more than a hop over a bar that was a couple of notches lower.