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Subhash K. Jha analyses Kaafila

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By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Marooned on a beach (that looks suspiciously like Juhu) after a ship sinks following an hybridized arabesque-western item song (maybe it couldn't take the weight of the waist from the east?) the stunned-seeming surviors of this whip wrecked drama of the damned, look around askance wondering what to do next.

Only God and the creators of this ham-handed homage to hysteria know why Kaafila got on to celluloid.

You need nerves of steel to sit through 3 hours of this nauseous and numbing migrants' journey from illicit travel to Indo-Pak camaraderie and final home-coming, all done in the spirit of a patriotic play staged at the village sarpanch's grandson's naming ceremony. You name it, Kaafila has got it....Every fetid formula from the Book Of Wreck-Olds is dumped into this voyage of the damned.

Says one of the many smirking villains about super-hero Sunny Deol. "He can stop a ship from sinking."

But Sunny, wearing sunglasses in key dramatic scenes probably to hide his embarrassment at the company he quips, can certainly not stop this leaky ship from sinking. Kaafila is one of those nobly-intended disasters about a burning issue that cooks itself up into an indigestible charcoal mess. It could easily qualify as the worst film of the year, if not the decade.

There are scores and scores of ungainly hammy actors shouting, crying, smirking, laughing and dancing on the (leaky) ship as though the clouds had just decided to burst havoc on the pages that were meant to hold the screenplay.

The plot screams for a semblance of maturity in handling the theme of a big bunch of illegal migrants making their way into England through Russia and Afghanistan. There's no dearth of the great wide outdoors in this despicable disaster. Ammtoje Mann's direction, perpertually perched on a high-octave hoarse, takes us through some eye-catching locales in Russia and Afghanistan and we even get a glimpse of crowded Rawalpindi towards the end when the narrative and we have been driven completely around the bend.

Mann the director heads the cast, as a moping lover-boy pining for his lost love. Sunny Deol joins the ragged traveler's midway. He too pines for lost love,his anglo-saxon love interest being the most eye-catching entity in this film swarming with characters who scream and sing to make themselves heard over the din of damnation that underlines the project.

In one word Kaafila is unbearable. In two words, it's unbearably sanctimonious, with the crackling caravan of characters constantly breaking into rhetorical debates on the pros and cons of the brain drain.

The true brain drain lies in putting together this pastiche of parodic passion where the anguish of the characters is completely overshadowed by the desperation of the audience to get out of the hellish hijinks of a journey that takes the characters from the villages of Punjab to the frozen snowscape of lands where this film should be buried.

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