Kabul Express aka Bollywood telling Afghan war stories


Kabul Express (India, 2006)

Seen: Tuesday, 2nd December 2008 (DVD)
Runtime: 106′
Polish Distributor: None yet (AFAIK)
Director: Kabir Khan
Cast: John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, Salman Shahid, Hanif Hum Ghum, Linda Arsenio
Production House: Yash Raj Films
Plot: Two Indian journalists and an American one are looking for news stories in Afghanistan. They have an Afghan guide and are sort of kidnapped by a Pakistani Talib. They somehow have to travel together and not kill each other along the way.


Impressions In Short
Some bizarre humour and a very curious concept, but I had the impression it could have been pulled off better.

Some Details
This is actually the first film to be shot on location in Afghanistan since the Taleban were overthrown. Kabir Khan, the director, insisted that Kabul is an important character in the film and thought it essential to shoot there. Apparently the Taliban kept sending death threats to the cast and crew, but the Afghan government maintained tight security around them.
There’s a really amusing trivia piece on imdb (actually all of them are good, but this one’s my favourite) from the shooting of the film:

John Abraham asked an Afghan driver where suicide bombers came from. The driver replied, “Either from the right or the left or the front or the back… Allah can ask for you from whichever direction he chooses.”

In terms of the film itself, at the beginning I almost had the impression that they were bashing Pakistan - there was a lot about Pakistan’s involvement with the Taliban. I was quite shocked actually because Yash Raj Films is the studio behind Veer Zaara - a love story between a Pakistani girl and an Indian man which has a strong unifying sort of message. But as it unfolded it became obvious it was bashing the Pakistani government, but in fact presenting the Pakistani people as some of the biggest victims of Pakistan’s involvement with the Taliban.
Something else that got me is that yet again I’ve had a film set in Afghanistan reference their “gay culture” ;) There’s two comic scenes involving that, but as I don’t want to spoil the joke for anyone - I’ll just say that it looks like in the Middle East Afghanistan has a pretty strong gay image ;)

Er, yes - sort of I guess (providing you’re interested in Afghanistan of course). I mean I don’t think it’s that brilliant, but it has something to say.
If you’re curious about the film, but worried cause you don’t like Bollywood or whatever - well this isn’t really a Bollywood formula kind of film. I mean it’s under 2 hours for one thing :] No songs either. Though I guess it does have some trappings of the Bollywood formula - namely the exaggerated comedy sort of acting, which IMO doesn’t entirely work with this material. I think the humour in the film is quite specific and would have worked better if it had been treated differently.

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