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Kabul Express March 6, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Finally, a film that Yash Raj productions isn’t trying to make money out of. One that gives some value to its popularity. One that it can be happy about. Aditya Chopra deserves some praise and so does John Abraham who apparently took writer-director Kabir Khan to him (not to mention all the crew members who worked under the dangerous conditions including life threats).

The film details the journey of two rookie Indian journalists trying to get an interview with a member of the Taliban in post-9/11 Afghanistan. Also part of the journey are an Afghani driver, a female American journalist and a Talib desperate to flee to Pakistan.

Documentary filmmaker Kabir Khan has an interesting story to tell. He weaves his Afghanistan experience into the screenplay of this thriller (not the edge-of-the-seat variety). It is not without an emotional base though. The Talib has his side of the story and that raises questions. Kabir also uses a lot of humor to keep the audience interested.

The film feels very authentic because of the setting, the actors, the different languages spoken and the inclusion of some of the sights specific to the region. Cinematographer Anshuman Mahaley does a good job. Some of the visuals, especially the ones that contrast the desert and sky, are superb. Considering that this isn’t a film aiming for stark realism, the glossy feel is fine. The film is short by Hindi film standards (106 minutes) and has no songs but the soundtrack by Raghav Sachar is quite good and has an indipop feel to it. Apart from the Kabul Fiza number that was used in the promos, Yeh Main Aaya Kahan Hoon and Keh Raha Mera Dil are quite good.

Among the actors the ones that make the best impression are Salman Shahid who plays the Talib and Hanif Hum Ghum who plays the Afghani driver. John Abraham does fine in a role that doesn’t call for great histrionics. He seems to be one actor who wants to do unconventional films and without his backing this film might not have been made this way. He also doesn’t seem to be an insecure one, considering the amount of screen time Arshad Warsi gets. Warsi does his usual funnyman act well. Linda Arsenio doesn’t get much to do as the American journalist.

Despite everything the film is simple and does not attempt to give you a comprehensive view of the issues. However, the peek into Afghanistan in the form of this light entertainer is satisfactory. It may not be the most entertaining film to watch but it is definitely far from boring even for hardcore commercial cinema lovers. Anyone who is game for a simple thriller in an unconventional setting should take part in this journey.

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