Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Kurbaan: Old wine, better packaged
There is an educated, suave man living a double life as a terrorist, his beautiful wife who doesn’t know about his identity and the “third man” who tries to help the family.
However, D’Silva still manages to draw you into his story, thanks to some taut moments, a fast-paced first half, and some slick packaging.
Kareena Kapoor plays Avantika, a New York professor who falls in love and gets married to colleague Ehsaan Khan (Saif Ali Khan).
They buy a house in an Indian neighbourhood and on their first night there, are introduced to their neighbours, a group of conservative Muslims — who seem to be hiding something.
Avantika soon realises she has to make a choice between her marriage and what is right.
She meets Riyaz Masood (Viveik Oberoi), a reporter with a local channel who helps her expose the truth, but they both find they are pawns in a larger game.
The film maintains a tight pace in the first half but slackens in the second, when all the surprises in the story seem to die out.
Also, D’Silva hardly dwells on the relationship between Ehsaan and Avantika, when that could have been the main draw of the film.
The dialogue is unimaginative in places, and so are the character sketches. Saif’s character comes across as half-baked and we never see why he made the transition from an ordinary man into a terrorist.
There are good points however — the few confrontation scenes between Ehsaan and Avantika are taut and the chemistry is crackling. Also, even though the director does oversimplify the themes of Islamic fundamentalism and jihad, the film does make some pertinent points which hit home.
Of the performances, Saif Ali Khan is stranded with a badly written role that doesn’t allow him to explore the character much. Kareena Kapoor does well, playing the part of the trapped wife to perfection. Viveik Oberoi’s character demanded that he be understated, instead the actor goes for over-the-top acting, thus ruining the effect.
“Kurbaan” is a good one-time-watch.