The curious case of Avantika Khan
Thoda sa “Love Aaj Kal”, thoda sa “Ajnabee”, thoda sa “Fanaa”, thoda sa “Khuda Ke Liye” aur thoda sa ‘New York”. Lo ban gayi “Kurbaan”…
Khalid a.k.a. Ehsaan Khan (Saif), a newbie professor at Delhi University, keeps ‘piling on” his fellow visiting professor Avantika (Kareena). She falls for him soon, but before they could unite she gets a call from her university to report back. Unlike “Love Aaj Kal” hero, Ehsaan does not believe in long distance relationships, and so he convinces Avantika’s father to get them married and then piggybacks Avantika to the US. Life seems smooth as Ehsaan also gets job as a professor in the same campus to deliver lectures on insights of Islam and they also move to their new house in comfortable Asian vicinity.
Avantika’s life changes after a get together at their neighbor’s place; a family headed by bhai jaan (Om Puri) and his wife (Kirron Kher). The revelations that follow rout her life upside down and she is left to believe that she was just a pawn in a lot of scheming hands. Will she be ever out of this mess with the help of reporter Riyaaz (Vivek Oberoi), who is also on his personal mission, is what is narrated in the remaining part…
The first and the most basic problem with the film is that it has come a bit too late in the day, with more realistic and better narrated films have already been released before. For the first half an hour, the film runs fast as a 100m sprint, but then becomes a dry and dark journey till the end. The screenplay does not just have loopholes, it even has potholes, and it’s a disappointing since the writing team includes Karan, Rensil, Anurag and Niranjan Iyengar. Dialogues are good and sharp at places, but not uniformly. Editing leaves a slack of around 20 to 25 minutes, resulting into loosening of the grip of the plot. The most effective FBI team and the NYPD are shown busy in such lousy state of affairs, it certainly is not effective writing.
Lead pair too young to be professors, getting cosy in the campus, Avantika / Riyaaz getting involved in private investigations rather than alerting the police officials, Ehsaan’s escape sequence, FBI not able to trace Ehsaan even after having his clear photograph nor do they alert / search the airlines or local job centers knowing very well that he has sneaked into the country a couple of months before, a police officer fingering a live bomb in an empty railway station to diffuse it, Avantika seducing Ehsaan just to tow him out of the room, Avantika leaving voice message on Riyaaz’s girlfriend’s landline number and not alerting on emergency numbers, the train keeps running even after heavy firing in the climax – there are many many such sequences which are not logical and make the script weak. On the positive side, cinematography by Hemant Chaturvedi and action by Parvez Khan are excellent. A very brief outburst scene on Vivek Oberoi during the Islamic lecture (to show neutralism) is good. Direction is good but the director Rensil is let down by the writer Rensil. Background score is very good. Characterization of almost all actors appearing in small roles is good.
Performances: Saif and Kareena look good together on screen but they don’t set the screen on fire. Individually they do pretty decent job in their roles, but Saif’s character appears mostly one dimensional. Nowhere has he looked like a dreaded criminal and is mostly confused in his approach. Kareena, thankfully after having a good protein diet, is back to her natural shape. And though her character also has loopholes, she does deliver well. Om Puri and his family members do look dangerous throughout and that’s a success in portraying the characters. But the real winner across all is Kirron Kher. In her Afghani outfit and accent she plays her role exceptionally well till the very end. Vivek Oberoi underplays is role well in a controlled performance. Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Akash Khurana, Dia Mirza, Nauheed Cyrusi all do very well in their brief appearances.
Music: Salim-Sulaiman deliver a decent album with good background score with soothing lyrics by Niranjan Iyengar and Irfan Siddiqui. The matka-number “Shukran Allah”, haunting “Dua”, soulful “Ali Maula” and seductive “Rasiya” are the best things to happen in the album and for the film as well.