Rang De Basanti writer Rensil D'Silva's movie poster says it all. Boy with a bullet on his shoulder has seduced girl who seems to have discovered his true identity. Kurbaan simply intends being a love story with a lot of blood, great skin and good-looking people. And that, it delivers.
Yes, I know, the film has many gaping plot-holes but here's the thing about big-budget star vehicles, especially thrillers. By genre, they are primarily meant to thrill, not intended to make you think. Would we dare to even for a moment think why John McClane not once but four times ends up being the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time without ever succumbing to bullets rained on him? Why not? Because we are Die-Hard fans of Bruce Willis. So let's just extend that courtesy to Kurbaan.
Now, why am I making a case for the lack of plausibility and logic in Kurbaan when I wouldn't really extend this argument to films such as Luck or Acid Factory? Simply because those films were rip-offs and a fairly original Kurbaan is a lot more than what it looks like. It's one of those films where the subtext is richer than what is expressly said. One, the writing is impeccably smart and crisp. The lines are loaded with meaning. Whether it's Saif Ali Khan casually quipping: “I like people with opinions. It's the ones who don't who scare me” when warned about his students steeped in prejudice against Islam or when one of these students asks Viveik Oberoi why he just doesn't leave the country if he has a problem with Americans. “I will. As soon as you get out of ours,” he says.
Two, the electric chemistry between the stars make the proceedings absolutely riveting. I mean, do we really need an excuse to see Saif and Kareena make out? Are we really going to complain about one of the few bold intimate scenes in Indian cinema? Yes, she beds him to steal his secrets when she could've just waited for him to fall asleep… But what if she was just using sex to gain his confidence and make him believe that she doesn't really care that he's a terrorist! There's a lot for the actors to do and Saif and Kareena rock in their roles. Only poor Viveik Oberoi tries sincerely to roll his ‘R's and he gives it all he has. The ever-reliable Om Puri and Kirron Kher are creepily cold and convincing and Dia Mirza cuts a nice cameo.
It is a little disturbing that the terrorists are sophisticated and make educated choices about spreading terror. Without really stopping to explain, Rensil touches upon all the critical issues — racial profiling, the vulnerability of a superpower and the futility of terror that brings life to a full circle for the protagonist.
Where the film fails is in constructing a wholly believable premise for these events to unfold. Yes, there are so many other ways Saif could have come to America, Viveik could've easily opted to tell the FBI as soon as he unearthed the terror plot and Kareena could've ran for her life when Saif falls asleep or called 911 but if any of that had happened, there would be no movie, no thriller. But then, have you counted the number of times Bond villains could've just shot him point blank when they had the chance? Or the number of times Bond seduces women to steal secrets? So let's just let Kurbaan be, shall we? It's better than most films made in an industry with a failure rate of 92 per cent this year.