Saturday, December 16

The journey on the… …“Kabul Express”


Often times, we make mistakes in our lives, because we didn’t think a decision through and took it at the spur of the moment, based on our pre-conceived notions. My seeing this movie was one such blunder.

Untrue to its name, this movie is anything but express. At the end of the first half, the drunk sitting next to me had lost his high, and the ads for Original Kerala Jewellers actually made a bunch of fatally bored people take notice of the screen.

Here’s the summary – a tacky story directed without purpose, edited by a rookie with actors not yet successfully making the transition from modeling to acting and extras who only contribute to making the experience extra painful.

One of many unforgettable scenes was that of our protagonists coming upon a bunch of Afghans playing some sort of polo with a rug (or was that supposed to be an animal, Mr. production designer?). The extras were geeing the horse riders on with such mild enthusiasm that you would have thought that they weren’t even paid to do their roles.

Many such fascinating mistakes captured one’s imagination (and locked it away). A few of them being –

- The American journalist laughing at Imran Khan Afridi’s (IMA) joke despite not seeming to understand Hindi.

- Everyone still calling IMA a Taleb, although it was clear that he was working for the Pakistani government.

- IMA holding a gun to the Afghan driver’s head and asking him to say that the Afghans started the war. At this point, you don’t know that IKA isn’t a Taleb, so you might tend to skip it. But looking back why would a Pakistani ask an Afghan to say that the Talebs are the best? Perplexing.

- John Abraham’s hair continued to remain well conditioned throughout the movie, considering their hotel didn’t even have a roof. Need to get me some of that darn Clinic All Clear.

The most mind numbing part of the movie was when the two worst actors and dialogue deliverers, John and the lady had a conversation. You could just feel the patience of the audience stretching like a rubber band, about to snap.

To its credit, I guess the movie did try to be cool and non-conformist when John Abraham tried to criticize cricket when he called it “eleven men standing around holding their crotches” or something to that effect. Although, I still have a feeling that he was watching a very different “sport”. However, his Internet habits are none of my concern.

There were also a lot many scenes that I can’t seem to connect to the main plot of the movie too well. The Sufi singing, the boy with one leg, the Taleb leaving his daughter some USD sandwiched between rocks, without even speaking to her or seeing her face were all areas of the movie which seemed to have broken free of its eco system and developed lives of their own. I guess, as IMA said it, “There are some things you’ll never understand.” Thank goodness for that.

Another point to mention was the clichéd background music. I don’t know what it’s called, but that lady ululating in the background was cool when I first heard it in “The Gladiator”. Even in Troy, it was a little played out. Since then, it’s become quite over done, and this movie doesn’t even seem to have theme music to back the lady up. Her random ululations are worse than the theme song, which mysteriously starts after the intermission without any purpose and ends with a message - “buy Kabul Express music on Yashraj Music”.

I sent a text after the first half saying that this movie was a 5.5 out of 10 so far. I guess out of the 5.5, a substantial portion of the credit went to Arshad Warsi’s comic timing and the benefit of not knowing what was to follow. But that was just like Tendulkar batting in a South African one-dayer. How much can one man do?

The meandering plot found a couple of occasions to flash the American lady’s cleavage. She seemed to have no other obvious purpose in the movie, anyway. It also made skewed references to how Pakistan’s army ditches its own and how cowardly the Pakistani government is, and how we Indians are more friendly. I’m sure that this story is based on very sound facts that make all of us proud.

We’re slowly but surely getting to the level of Hollywood movies where all superheroes, earth shattering situations, aliens and alternate universes all necessarily come from or occur in America. The undertone of this movie was a pathetic attempt at being patriotic. If anything, it was just plain patronizing.

The moral of the story seems to be Imran Khan Afridi’s transition to a friendly old man from an aggressive old fart, showing how we assume even good people to be bad sometimes just based on stereotypes. Another parallel moral seemed to be that reporters can do nothing in war torn situations. That was quite a learning for me.

I will take the first moral of the film and apply it to my film watching the next time. Even a relatively decent sounding movie can be the equivalent of silent suffering. The only surprising part of the movie experience was how the uncle next to me who was wreaking of cheap whiskey managed to stay up through the duration of the movie. My friend, who hadn’t had a drink certainly couldn’t.

My rating: 2.5 on 10

Who should watch this movie: Couples desperate to make out, who’ve got bookings for the top corner seat.

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