There is a consistent feeling of intrigue while you watch Kurbaan. Almost like a time bomb waiting to go off. Debutant director Rensil D’Silva’s ability to maintain the intense graph of Kurbaan is the biggest highlight of this film.
Karan Johar is turning out to be a remarkable producer. Dostana, Wake Up Sid and now Kurbaan. All his films have been narrated in a refreshing fashion, blending unconventional themes with commercial ingredients. In that sense, Kurbaan is the least commercial of the lot. Unlike New York and Fanaa, the terrorism track and Islamic fundamentalism is not sugar coated. The characters here are cold-blooded and rarely vulnerable.
Which is why Kurbaan is also not exactly a feel good watch. There are no moments of relief and the proceedings get a tad too heavy at few points. Kurbaan has a bang on first half. Two professors (Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor) meet in an university and decide to move abroad after marriage. On reaching the United States of America, Kareena of course realises there’s something fishy about her husband. Kareena seeks help of a daredevil journalist (Vivek Oberoi) to find out what her husband is up to.
After an arresting start, the film gets a little shaky. Post interval the pace slackens and the tension between the lead characters becomes monotonous. In the second hour you often find yourself wanting some more action to give some respite from the talk heaviness. The writers run out of surprises in this part of thefilm. Given its grim plot, two hours and forty minutes is way too long for an average cinegoer. A taut, complex film starts culminating into a routine FBI chase. Things however pick up in a lengthy but well-executed climax shot on a subway station.
Kurbaan works in most parts because the director keeps the cinematic coincidences and liberties to the minimum. And wherever you do sense a leap of faith it is not jarring. Secondly, despite knowing how the characters will react, Rensil manages to shock you with his scenes. Note the moment where Saif reveals his identity. You know what it is all about, yet it hits you hard. Rensil doesn’t digress from his core plot right up to the climax – which might meet with mixed reactions.
Of the cast, Kareena Kapoor displays the anxiety of her character well. But beyond a point, apart from looking worried, confused and helpless she has little to do. In many portions she performs and emotes a lot like her sister did in Fiza. Saif Ali Khan enacts the grey shades with perfection. But unfortunately his character loses bite towards the end. And he, too, like Kareena becomes one-dimensional in his part. Their much talked about love scene has a lot of bareback action, and is aesthetically shot.
However it is Vivek Oberoi who delivers a spontaneous performance. His character gives the film some much-needed energy. Vivek’s part has more range than the lead pair’s. Dia Mirza and Nauheed Cyrusi get the most significant guest appearances of their lives. Om Puri and Kirron Kher are clichéd but deliver some brilliant dialogues.
Salim-Suleiman’s haunting tunes add to the stark premise of the film – especially Ali Maula. Technically the production values are top-notch even though cleverly inspired by Hollywood. Inconsistencies aside, Kurbaan is undoubtedly among the most watchable films of the season.
Verdict: Kurbaan could have been a tighter and perhaps slightly more engrossing film. But considering it is the director’s maiden effort – full marks to Rensil D’Silva. He does well to stay away from any frothy elements at the cost of sacrificing the mass entertainment value. It’s mostly a gripping thriller with several shock moments. Give it a shot.