Movie - Kurbaan (Hindi)
Director - Rensil D'Silva
Producer - Karan Johar
Cast - Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor, Om Puri, Kirron Kher, Dia Mirza, Nauheed Cyrusi, Khulbhushan Kharbanda
Music - Salim/Sulaiman
Cinematography - Hemant Chaturvedi
Story - Karan Johar
Screenplay - Rensil D'Silva
Dialogues - Anurag Kashyap, Niranjan Iyengar
Release Date - 20th November 2009
I had reasonable expectations out of Kurbaan, just because of Rensil D'Silva who gave us the extraordinary screenplay of Rang De Basanti. It had Karan Johar doing the story, Rensil doing screenplay and direction and Anurag Kashyap and Niranjan Iyengar doing dialogues. Thats like a lethal combination. But sadly, the film does not have the fireworks that one expects out of this combo. Saif and Kareena were all over the media promoting the film for the past 2 weeks and while watching the movie, you would have already had enough of them. Vivek Oberoi, who is the actual star of the movie, was not part of any promotional activity. In fact, this morning, I saw even Barkha Dutt asking Saif and Kareena when they are going to get married. Karan Johar has a lot of influence I must say.
Avantika (Kareena Kapoor) is a professor(she doesnt look like one from any angle) at a university in Delhi. She meets a new professor Ehsaan Khan (Saif Ali Khan) who had just joined the university. They both develop a liking for each other and fall deeply in love, very quickly. And then Avantika gets an offer to teach in NYU and she wants to go there badly. Ehsaan is ready to sacrifice whatever he has and go there along with her. So they get married and leave to New York and get settled there(again, very quickly). Ehsaan gets a job as professor in the same university where Avantika teaches (though she doesnt go to work at any point in the movie), and he teaches a course on Islam (come on, is it so easy for a Muslim to find a job in the US in the current situation??). Avantika discovers a secret terrorist mission unknowingly and comes to know that her husband is also a part of that group. A television reporter, Riyaaz (Vivek Oberoi) loses his girlfriend in one of their attacks and decides to 'deal with them himself'(:P) by infiltrating their group. What happens after that forms the rest of the story.
When there are such talents in the writing department, you expect nothing short of a top-notch story and screenplay which engages you throughout. Kurbaan's story is extremely similar to the two Yash Raj terrorism films, Fanaa and New York. Like Fanaa, the heroine discovers that her lover is a terrorist and like New York, this film is also set in New York and a third person infiltrates the group to obstruct their mission. These are just the basic similarities, you will notice much more as you watch the movie. If the story was new, Kurbaan would have been a very engaging movie. But now, it turns almost predictable killing the fun in watching this thriller. There are numerous plot holes throughout the movie, the most striking one being that the FBI has a photo of Saif Ali Khan and are not able to track him down when he is roaming about freely in New York. Some scenes are done very well, like the scene in Saif's class where Vivek and an American student have a discussion on what terrorism means to each individual. Or the scene where Kareena removes a bullet from Saif's chest, and another scene where Vivek talks to Khulbhushan Kharbanda about them being Americans first. The climax is developed quite well, but has a very predictable ending. The dialogues during the romance portions are very similar to Kashyap's own work in Yuva (the Vivek-Kareena part). For the rest of the parts, the dialogue varies from good to decent to bad. Resnil D'Silva could have handled the film better, and the worst part is that the film has come just a few months after New York, which had more or less the same theme.
The performances, though, are really good. Saif is subtle and understated as Ehsaan the lover, who later turns into a terrorist. Even though his character's actions towards the end is not developed properly, he gives a good enough performance. But nowhere near his brilliant performance in Love Aaj Kal, earlier this year or his earlier iconic negative role, Langda Tyagi from Omkara. In fact, his character becomes lost in the crowd in the second half of the film. But despite the weakly written character, Saif delivers a good subtle performance. Kareena looks great and performs decently also. Her character has to go through a lot of emotional turmoil and she performs all that effectively. And she shines during the emotional scene in the climax with just facial expressions. The chemistry between the two is quite good and they make a very convincing couple. The much hyped love making scene, though shot well, has an extremely silly build-up to it. That kills the whole passion in that scene.
But the best performance in the movie is by Vivek Oberoi. In fact, it is a comeback of sorts for Vivek, who had been doing terrible movies and even more terrible roles in the recent past. (Except for maybe a decent Shootout At Lokhandwala). Despite the fact that his role is too similar to Neil Nitin Mukesh's role in New York, he brings a certain credibility to it. His American accent works well because he doesnt go overboard and knows where to stop. This movie would be definitely a platform for Vivek to announce that he is still as talented as he was during Company and Saathiya. After seeing his acting in this movie, I am now excited about Ramgopal Varma's Rakta Charitra where he is making his proper comeback. Om Puri acts in a very predictable way as the terrorist chief, but does it well nevertheless. Kirron Kher is not the loud, happy and overreacting mother for a change. She is a stern woman who feels strongly for the lives of the innocent Muslims in Afghanistan. She has a peculiar Afghani accent in her Hindi and she also gives a good performance. Dia Mirza, Nauheed Cyrusi and Khulbhushan Kharbanda make very short appearances.
Music is exceptionally good and blends into the movie very well. The 'Shukran Allah' song is beautiful and is shot in Delhi just like 'Subhan Allah' from Fanaa. Salim/Sulaiman as we know are masters at doing background scores. So they give their best for this movie. Cinematography by Hemant Chaturvedi is great and gives the film the required feel. The editor could have made a huge difference in the second half, but sadly, we dont have any and it appears to be very long.
On the whole, you dont feel for any of the characters in the film and that is not such a good thing to happen while seeing such a film. If a drama/thriller is not able to do that, then it would not be very successful in reaching its audience. If the story hadnt come earlier in the above mentioned films, this film would have been much more engaging. But sadly, it is not. It is just a combination of Fanaa and New York, some good scenes, effective performances and some great music and camerawork. It is not such a bad movie. But it disappoints the ones who had great expectations out of it. Congrats to Karan Johar for moving into a different genre of films, even though his story is a little too cliched. Rensil D'Silva needs to prove his talent in a better film next time. We expect much more from him after writing a gem like Rang De Basanti.
Rating - 2.5/5