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Kurbaan – a Review November 22, 2009

Posted by astralwicks in Bollywood, hindi films, india, Jihad Politics, Personal, Review, Saifeena.
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Avantika, the heroine of Kurbaan finds the truth of her neighbour, including her husband’s evil terror designs by the most facile manner. She is under lock and key supervised by highly motivated terrorist’s who forget to search her. She in fact has a phone on her!

Still interested? Avantika who knows that a plane carrying a special delegation to Iraq is about to be BOMBED does NOT call the cops – inspite of having a phone!! She calls up a journalist who is traveling on the said plane – who like most travelers switches off her phone before take-off.

Vivek Oberoi’s journalist character (with horrible accents that change like calamitous weather) again discovers that there is a terrorist cell in operation about to carry a HUGE operation. What does he do? He decides to investigate on his own – without informing the FBI. And better still – he goes and informs his editor that he has LEADS but is not going to inform the FBI! You would assume that the editor would pick up the phone and call the FBI. But no sir, he doesn’t. All this after 9/11.

There is more. Even after knowing that the terrorist cell is targeting the Metro Lines and even after the 1st bombing – people in America go about their daily lives. The authorities continue to operate the Metro instead of closing it down and sanitizing it so that our plot reaches it logical ending.

The clothes of course are good. And the locations. Couple of scenes work well. But does it justify the lack of careful attention to screenplay-detail? Seems like that. We are cagey in our criticism until and unless there is an ulterior motive. A taut flawless script is no guarantee of a film’s success. I like Rang De Basanti (at least I did when I last saw it). My friends laugh and mock me, but I still enjoy it inspite of the inconsistencies and flights of fancy. RDB has a sincere charm – the emotions of those characters are infectious and accessible. You are ready to gloss over because you believe in the film emotionally if not intellectually.

That is not possible with Kurbaan’s because its politics exist in a no man’s land. A Pakistani posing as a professor, charms off an Indian psychology professor teaching in the US so that he can take revenge on the white man and his politics of oil. The story of his idyll being destroyed by America is told by Kiron Kher’s character. Similarly Kiron Kher and family’s rage has a backstory set in Afghanistan.

The complex web of the Jihad – Wahabism, invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets, the Mujahideen, the Saudi funding of Madrasas, the CIA financing of the Mujahideen, the ISI agenda of funding terror for strategic depth in Afghanistan, the radicalization of Pakistan under Zia, the strangle-hold of the military in Pakistan, the emergence of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda – nothing is even remotely touched upon. Kurbaa’s reductionism lays the blame on the door of the US of A. Is it that simple?

Do we see any evidence of what Bhaijaan (Om Puri) constantly asserts – that Ehsaan (Saif) is falling for Avantika (Kareena). NO. It is just a bogey so that when Ehsaan actually does have a change of heart without any reason whatsoever (no it’s nothing to do with the kid that Avantika is carrying) you have to gloss over the obvious lack of motivation. Again Ehsaas, the numero – uno terrorist is surprised by the rigging of Avantika’s bag. Is he a fool or a motivated fanatic?

Is Kurbaan a vivisection of the increasing clash of cultures between Islam and Christianity? NO. Is it a study of radicalization of the world per se. NO. Does India play any role in it? Nothing other than the fact that the film starts in India and the heroine has Indian roots.

Kurbaa’s characters lie in a no-man’s land. Are we supposed to like the film because it features 2 of India’s good-looking, talked-about people who are in a relationship? Good ploy but it fails.






60 Years of Indian Independence August 14, 2007

Posted by astralwicks in 15th august, 60, babri masjid, blustar, celebration, hindi films, icons, Idea, iit, Independence, india, nation, obituary, rti, timeline.
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Tomorrow is the 60th year of India’s independence. 15th August 1947-2007. Every year the ritual begins in earnest…where is India? What is India? Is it the end of India? Is this India’s best year? More often than not the strain of such journalistic exercises reek of the stench of obituaries. More often than not one sensed a sense of despondency about India. As if it’s a country on its last legs, about to collapse.

What were the landmarks that made us think like that almost believe in the imminent death of a nation that we all loved and sometimes…

I remember 1983 the epochal cricket world cup; 1984 operation Blue Star and the killing of Indira Gandhi; 1987 the IPKF; Kashmir, 1989 killing of Rajiv Gandhi and Mandal Commission; 1992 Babri Masjid; 1993 Bombay Bomb Blasts not to forget religious, ethnic and other parochial strifes that perpetually kept the nation on its toes.

Everybody fought. The North East, Kashmir, Hindus and Muslims, upper and lower castes…a nation torn apart at its seams. The nation tried to come to terms with this by immersing itself in two passions – cricket and films (Hindi and regional) but that was not enough. Liberalization brought in its attendant evils – proliferating money, the speculative stock market barons who run roughshod over small investors and corrupt regulators who had patrons in the government.

There were minor victories for sure. V. Anand, semi – finals at the cricket cups, a defeat over Pakistan, Arundhati Roy, Indian or Hindi films, the Indian technological foot soldiers who left their country, made their mark in the US or Britain and became a part of its national mainstream without forgetting their country…eating pickles, wearing saris and watching garish Hindi films. But our national sadness had more avenues to escape. It was not limited to cricket and films. We had more icons. Wipro, Infosys, IIT graduates, Bangalore, Sania (she is back), still some Hindi films, Medha Patkar, Sunita Narayan of CSE, the Mass Media inspite of its shameful tabloidisation, new power structures, equal opportunities and coalition governments.

We still have farmers committing suicide and the agriculture minister chairing BCCI battles. Infanticide in the richest states and the non-implementation of the RTI. We still don’t have the right to reject out candidates who rule on the district, state and national levels.

So are we more confident as a nation now as we enter the 61st year? Have we been able to project a united front to the world outside or importantly have we been able to make sense of all the diverse elements that we celebrate but have not been honest to its differences and inherent wish to be autonomous. Are we only in love with the idea of India as an ancient civilization, home to different faiths and blah blah?

Or is their a greater destiny that waits India, only its instruments are not ready and able to write it, too busy in their past hurts, recent upswing and future prospects to think of the nation…too busy surviving to nurture the GREAT IDEA.