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Monday, April 26, 2010

Kabul Express (movie) - an express you shouldnt miss boarding...


Well it is common understanding that whichever Bollywood movie isn’t hyped or has the glossy premieres and isn't given a star treatment is actually the movie to watch out for.
One of the main attractions for me to watch Kabul Express was of course John Abraham.Plus the fact that I love documentaries also added to the same.To project a sensitive subject like this, it is required that the film does not turn into a preach saga or a commentary of what is happening.
Surprisingly, the movie comes from the commercialized Yash Raj banner, wonder why they don’t think of doing such sensible cinema most of the time.It also marks the debut of writer director Kabir Khan. The background score by Raghav Sanchar complements the feel of the movie, the typical accent and the way in which the Afghani people speak hindi is very sweet n real.
The movie starts with 02 war journalists going to Kabul to cover the post-war destruction. Suhel Khan (John Abraham) and Jai Kapoor (Arshad Warsi), are there in the middle of all the gun and the bullets, to shoot a story that will bring them accolades back home in India. War has destroyed everything. Smiling children with amputated legs and arms, women begging everywhere for food and money, as they don’t have a husband, a father or a male relation to turn to for their survival, young men with rifles, who do not hesitate to pull the trigger over trivial issues. People who were once friendly and warm, who now have no choice but to be suspicious of each other and always be ready to kill. Even in the midst of all this shooting and fear, the 02 journos manage to have their sense of humor and witty liners intact, which is desi and very natural. Khyber (Hanif Hum Ghum) is their guide n driver, who takes them to meet the Taliban soldier, or the “militant”, as the world largely believes. But it is bad luck for the duo as they just miss the Taliban and fear their journalist career will now mean shooting pot bellied politicians in India. As they return to their car, Kabul Express, all fear is set loose by the sight of the Taliban soldier Imran Khan Afridi (Salman Shahid), who is now settled in the back seat of the car, with an AK-47 comfortably aimed at the terrified occupants. He instructs them to drive him safely to the border and assures them that as long as they don’t try to be smart with him, they have nothing to fear. John is practical and calm, while Arshad is jumpy and impulsive. The story continues as the car moves along toward the border and the 04 men have no one to talk to except one another. One of the most realistic aspect of this movie is the way it shows the bonding between 04 complete strangers, all coming from different backgrounds. The men share their habit of smoking cigarettes. Each time Arshad lights one, the Talibani also asks for a “Hindustani cigarette”, much to Arshad’s irritation and John’s amusement. They share a love for music. As the old radio plays an old Hindi filmy number “main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya”, everyone joins in the melody. They share a common sense of fear. The Talibani faces the fear of being killed by the Afghanis or the Americans, while the other 03 fear they will be killed by the Talibani.Squabbles over Kapil Dev and Imran Khan, arguing over Coke and Pepsi. Jessica Bekham (Linda Arsenio) is an American journalist working for Reuters, who is a war pro and runs into the most dangerous areas, just to get a great story. It is only near the end of the movie that we get a glimpse into her real purpose, that of trying to tell the people in power , through her war documentaries, that it is high time we stop pitying and debating over the fate of such countries and really get down to help them to re-settle. The Talibani is a Pakistani Army soldier, who has been posted in Afghanistan for more than 06 years. In obeying the orders of the High Commission, he has been labeled as a Talibani. Imran does not agree to the Talibani idea of forcing religion on people and committing atrocities on women and children, but orders from higher authorities in the army have forced him to be labeled as one of the Talibani militants. We feel his deep love for his daughter, who has refused to see her Talibani father in the last 06 years. His only wish now is to have a glimpse of his daughter, to know that she is well and then go back to his home in Pakistan. The journalists help him meet his daughter and tears of love and gratitude run down his cheeks as he bids her a silent and distant farewell and heads for his country. While on their way towards the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, soldiers arrive and try to shoot down Imran. But John and Arshad help him escape by engaging the soldiers in firing. It is tough for Imran as he has to trust the 02 Indians and hand over his gun to them. John and Arshad give him a pack of the Hindustani cigarettes as a parting gift from India and wish him luck. As Imran nears the border to Pakistan, the Army refuses to acknowledge its own man. The official orders the soldiers to shoot him, though the latter are sure he is a Pakistani and is only returning home. But the officer needs to be politically correct, humanity features nowhere on his list of priorities. As we sit and hope that now Imran will finally be able to go back to his loved ones in his own country, he is riddled with bullets. The last shot of the movie shows his body falling in the water, the cigarette case and the picture of his daughter slipping away from his hands. I could not help the tears from trickling down my eye. The sense of loss, the sense of destruction, the sense of barbarism and cruelty inflicted by the so-called “civilised” and “powerful” nations of the world is portrayed in a mature and sensible way in the movie.
The political wars and diplomatic farce of these countries is evident here in abundance. Physical boundaries do not separate us. We are all the same at heart, we feel the same emotions, fear the same fears, share the same smiles and tears. It is rather these so-called politicians who govern us, people we choose to give us our share of freedom and happiness, the same people who choose to give us boundaries in the name of guarding us, rules in the name of keeping us safe and bullets and guns in the name of protecting us. Just wondering, did we really manage to be civilized in the 21st century?