Posted by: Noni | December 8, 2009

Noni Review of: Kurbaan , Directed by Rensil D’Silva

The thing that drew me to notice this film was the poster… actors Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor were portrayed naked which is a rare sight to see on an advert in the Middle East. I asked someone what Kurbaan meant and they told me it signified “Devotion to death” I was soon to discover that it was aptly named. Khan and Kapoor (real life lovers) play opposite each other in this romantic thriller where we see firsthand that things aren’t always as they appear.
I approached the box office and inquired whether the film had English subtitles. Many of the Indian films playing in Dubai have Arabic subtitles but not English, so it’s rare to have the chance see some of the finer Bollywood flicks.
I was lucky in this instance and purchased a ticket for the 10:30pm showing. I should have remembered to check the length of the film since Indian films are generally 3 hours or more. This film was no exception.
Kurbaan was a slight departure from typical Bollywood films. Instead of elaborate song and dance numbers, it had montage sequences that were set to traditional style music (by Salim-Suleiman). Another big difference is that most of the film was shot in New York City. Our hero and heroine meet in Delhi, fall in love after short courtship, settle down to marry and move to the US where the balance of the story unfolds.
The film fluctuates back and forth between a mix of Hindi and English spoken by our lovebirds and supporting characters. It actually disturbed the flow a bit for me since I would comfortably settle in to watch and listen then when they switched to Hindi I had to remember to read the sub-titles. Sometimes I found myself looking for subtitles and there were none… because they were speaking in English again. It’s common for Indians to speak like this. They use some words extensively and will mix both languages seamlessly. I usually have no difficulties with foreign language films… for some reason this one was harder to follow than normal. I suppose in part due to the holes in the plotline and unbelievable story points.
In many instances I was unable to accept plots points and it was especially hard to accept that a journalist would go undercover with a suspected terrorist group without informing anyone of his activities.
As for the main storyline it presented nothing new or unique. The whirlwind romance dealt with all the typical issues of mixed marriage, Hindi and Muslim… father not wanting to give approval… job transfer to a new place… one spouse following the other. Only in this instance most of the roles were reversed. Technically the film was well produced. The cinematography was excellent with good production design, well edited and scored but my biggest complaint was the acting. No problems with the performances of our leads and the supporting cast of Indian actors. The trouble was with the English speaking actors. They were all overacting; even the extras were overacting.
It may have been due to miscommunication of a first time director, or because of differences in Indian and American styles since they are vastly different. There was far too much gesturing and over annunciation of words… everything seemed forced and awkward. The main cop (FBI agent or whatever he was) really got on my nerves, he “indicated” every intention like a major telegraph. I suspect it wasn’t his fault, just a misinterpretation of the style of the acting and the direction he was given. Also he was critically injured in an explosion and then starts running around like he has minor injuries. The inconsistencies were distracting and obvious.
Bottom line, I was generally entertained but felt the film didn’t reach its full potential. A few tweaks in the story and better direction would have made this film unforgettable.

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