In step with apathy

RATING » * * * * 

Rishi Majumder

KURBAAN KEEPS YOU hooked till the end, only to leave you with a terribly incomplete feeling. It’s the story of Avantika (Kareena Kapoor) and Ehsaan (Saif Ali Khan), Delhi college professors who marry and shift to suburban New York, where Avantika opens a Pandora’s box of ghastly terror plots.

Despite many a convenient loophole in the plot of the film itself what keeps you hooked is excellent pacing, beautiful cinematography, and a consistently competent act by Saif Ali Khan, topped in brilliant bursts by Kareena Kapoor. Adding to these elements are moments which speak evocatively of the nuances of relationship. Moments such as a scene where Ehsaan is training Riyaaz (Vivek Oberoi), while informing him, casually, of his mistrust in him, or the scene right after the climax between Avantika and Ehsaan, where she asks him his real name.

The incomplete feeling then, is because the film somewhere becomes a cleverly constructed cat-andmouse game. Pedagogic exchanges about death tolls for 9/11 or America’s assault on Iraq and Afghanistan are not the reason we watch a film on terrorism. We have books, magazines, newspapers and the Internet for such things.

The film’s terrorists are cardboard characters who express little about their identity (which includes Afghan and Pakistani) through performance or dialogue. They appear in the film as they would in our nightmares – veiled wooden men and women intent on destruction. They speak in tense terse sentences and hushed tones, quietly eat their biryani and drink their chai, plan to kill people and grimly proceed to do so. They never joke or exchange any affection. They never reminisce about the past whose taking away they are avenging. They are like zombies in horror films, who exist only to make events more chilling. It is befitting irony that this depiction of the terrorist, as a monotonous monster, comes on the anniversary of the worst terror attack on our country. An anniversary during which everyone is talking of terror and the logistics of its prevention, without seeking out who its proponents really are. Ajmal Kasab, for most of us, is still frozen in that photograph he was first captured in on 26/11. We hardly care about where he came from, or where many others like him will come from. Kurbaan is in step with such apathy.


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