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Khalid Mohamed reviews Kabul Express

Despite Amitabh Shukla?s razor-sharp editing, Kabul Express moves like a slow boat to China, writes Khalid Mohamed.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 12:27 IST

Kabul Express
Cast: John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, Linda Arsenio
Director: Kabir Khan
Rating: **

No fooling, no refuelling. An SUV just keeps speeding through roads of Afghan dust and tar. No petrol, diesel or oil check required.

Curiously enough, former documentary filmmaker, writer-director pays scant attention to detail. None of the motley crew on the Kabul Express, for days and hours, is afflicted either by hunger or thirst pangs.

Sure, earlier it is established that you can’t get anything but kebabs (is that a fact?) in Afghanistan but that’s certainly no reason to go on an anti-meal and anti-water drive. Sad.

 
John Abraham and Arshad Warsi in a still from Kabul Express. 

Despite numerous gaffes and glitches, this Express trip is at least a shade different from all the Rio de Janeiro scapes and Dubai beachfronts you’ve been flown to of late. In fact, the Afghan backdrop is the star of the show, marvellously photographed by Anshuman Mahaley. Over to Indian TV reporter (John Abraham) and his video-pal (Arshad Warsi), who long to scoop-interview a surviving Taliban man.

That turns out to be a cloak-’n’-dagger elderly gent (Salman Shahid, over dramatic). The rest of the quintet on board the express comprises a temperamental Afghani (Dour Expression) and an American news photographer (Linda Arsenio, passable).

Incidentally, Lady America even proclaims that "in their hearts all journalists must know that whatever they do, it is never enough". Yes ma’am, thank you ma’am.

Throughout, Kabir Khan’s politics seem muddled; eventually the Taliban is defended and sentimentalised, given a dil-jigar, you know the Yash Chopra drift. Besides that, gags like the bumming of Indian cigarettes and the comparison between Imran Khan and Kapil Dev suggest that the script just didn’t have enough material for a full-length feature.

Also do note the cliches — a Khuda Gawahish buzhkashi scene, an interlewd of cleavage gazing and the inevitable allusions to the popularity of Mumbai’s movie stars.

Frankly, you expected far more spleen and substance from this fact-inspired adventure thriller. Despite Amitabh Shukla’s knife-sharp editing chops, Kabul Express moves like a slow boat to China.

Of the cast, Arshad Warsi has the best lines and does them absolute justice. Strangely, John Abraham acts either with his mouth half or wide open — as if he were sitting on a dentist’s chair.

Suggestion: Just look at the picture postcard vistas, if you must. Forget the rest.

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