Planet Bollywood
Kabul Express
Producer: Aditya Chopra/Yash Raj Films
Director: Kabir Khan
Starring: John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, and Salman Shahid
Music: Raghav Sachar and Julius Packiam (Guest)
Lyrics: Aditya Dhar, Swaratmika Mishra, and Vijay Kumar
Genre: Action
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 15 December 2006
Reviewed by: Ron Ahluwalia  - Rating: 8.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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Times are changing in Bollywood. Before, women were used to add the requisite glamour to attract audiences. Now, men are being used. What else can be said for John Abraham’s role in Kabul Express? With him doing a few push-ups, his unnecessarily perfect hair flowing in the Afghan wind, and only two scenes to do any real acting, it is obvious he took the role strictly to maintain ties with Yash Raj Films. His role is that of Sohail, an Indian reporter who comes to Afghanistan to interview a captive member of the Taliban.

With him comes cameraman Jai, brilliantly essayed by Arshad Warsi—the soul of Kabul Express. He has all the good lines, not simply because they are witty one-liners, but he delivers them in that inimitable Warsi style. He role has more conflicts with other characters and thus experiences the most growth. We’ve seen this kind of role before, but this actor gets it right every time.

Jai and Sohail and their guide Khayber (Hanif Hum Ghum) are abducted by Imran (Salman Shahid), a Pakistani Talib who demands to be taken to the Afghan-Pak border. Salman Shahid is just amazing in the scenes that call for histrionics—the man knows what he is doing. He also has excellent comic timing. The gradual revealing of the inner human is the success of his talent and a smart screenplay (but more on that later). Hanif Hum Ghum gives a high impact performance and really stands out amongst the crowd. His confrontations with Shahid are superb.

Then there is the American journalist Jessica—a role of guest appearance proportions. And there could not be a worse actress to play the role. Linda Arsenio fails to rise above the crappy English dialogue. Her expression is very over the top and her emotions are synthetic.

Kabul Express is founded on a simple pretence: a caravan on its way to the Afghan-Pak border, in which each person finds that they are joined to the others by a common thread, and some even find friendship within their foes. Director Kabir Khan really gives the film a different aura with his execution of the screenplay. There is a real chronological flow to it, and you feel part of the emotional and literal journey the characters are taking. The cinematography takes real advantage of Afghanistan’s beautiful landscape. Despite the ravaged conditions of the nation, it is presented with great elegance. The background score deserves high marks, as does the superlative soundtrack.

Kabul Express is a good movie. It has some great performances and a pleasant screenplay. It’s not perfect, but it is very effective and entertaining. But beware of the political setting. There is a bias. Don’t form any opinions from this movie alone—and don’t use wikipedia as your only means of research either!

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