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NOBLE CONCEPT GONE AWRY
NOBLE CONCEPT GONE AWRY

By Satyajit

Critic's I-view

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"Illegal Immigration" and "International Terrorism" - the two globally relevant subjects that have been the major concerns to modern society have now found fancy of the cinema world. In recent years, Bollywood has shaped strikingly into special genre of crossover films where stories about NRIs have found major acceptance worldwide. However, our cinema hasn't shown as much interest in the concept of "illegal immigration". Rishi Kapoor directed 'Aa Ab Laut Chale' has shown some depth into the matter followed up by small timers like 'Yun Hota to Kya Hota'. Unfortunately, none of these flicks has caught the fancy of the audiences. So, they have failed to garner any success at the box office. However, Amitoje Mann directed 'Kaafila' works aggressively on the concept of "illegal immigration" followed by the added plots based on "international terrorism".

'Kaafila' dares to be bold and relevant as it forays into the lives of people across India and Pakistan who abandon their careers and families for enjoying a better life in developed countries. It caters mainly to those over-enthused youngsters who shirk hard work and dream of living a "fairy tale" life overseas. 'Kaafila' also proves an eye-opener for all those innocent people who are duped by worldwide nexus of agents by showing them dreams of a luxurious life. The second half of the film derails a lot as it streamlines into exposing the facts about "international terrorism". 'Kaafila' tries to run on these two different tracks but finally falls through both of them. The conceptualization of such tedious and dreary subject needs a very bright vision of innovating characterization and narration. It does build up a momentum but perplexed narration and insipid plots kill the viewers' interest.

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Director and actor Amitoje Mann whose career took off with 'Hawaiyen', a film based on 1984 riots tries hard to prove his strength but fails to leave any major impact. Sunny Deol has a low phase in his career as all his recently solo releases have faced troubles at the box office. Besides, 'Kaafila' took an ample time to reach theatres but the good news is that it may release in Pakistan too after Mahesh Bhatt's 'Awarapan'.

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Amitoje Mann's 'Kaafila' is the story of a group of people from India and Pakistan who travel illegally to the UK duped by a traveling agent. The prime travelers involve Captain Aman (Amitoje Mann), a disgraced Army officer, Santokh Singh (Sudesh Berry), a Sikh farmer and Makhan Singh (Samir Dang), Gurutej (Paramveer Singh), Prof Probir Chatterjee (Jayant Das), Robin (Manish Sahani), Deep Singh (Chandan Anand) besides Pakistani travelers - Nawab Khan (Ashis Duggal) and Multani baba (Anand Mishra). It's a "Kaafila" ('Caravan') of at least 200 persons from all developing nations including some from Bangladesh.

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Unfortunately, they all fall a prey to an unscrupulous agent who leads them to hiding, somewhere in the suburbs of Eastern Europe for nearly six months. Though they initially brave the situation but later succumb following pangs of hunger and misery. After facing many hardships they resume their journey but meet ill luck at every step; death staring them in their face. They are forced to travel through the rough and deadly jungles close to Russia and lose their couple of friends. Finally, they board a large ship that carries hundreds like them to their dream destinations. The destiny strikes another vital blow when the sea storm leads to the shrinkage in their close-knit group; the group of hundreds being reduced to a mere dozen as some of them lose their lives in jungles while others succumb to deadly snow or sinking ship.

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Though all of them hail from different communities and have different food likings, they had one common goal of reaching their dream destination. Thus, their tragedies create a strong emotional bond between them. In their effort to move closer to their dream, they find themselves trapped by the Russian mafia involved in the "plutonium" smuggling racket besides facing militancy on the Afghan borders. Incidentally, they meet an Afghani girl named Palvesha (Sana Nawaz) who introduces them to the most gallant personality of the mountains - Sameer (Sunny Deol).

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Sameer, a Pakistan Army officer and now a secret agent working for his country, saves them from all attacks. He bondages them into a "Kaafila" ("Caravan") and fights their miseries out to reach the UK through different channels and countries. The contingent, which started off from India moves through Tajekistan, Russia and Afghanistan and finally traces back to Pakistan. The climax delivers a great surprise as all of them realize the importance of motherland and decide to return to their native land.

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'Kaafila' has the look of an oversized documentary film that unravels from one to another destination with many plots and sub-plots. The love stories hatched in the film have no relevance with the script and can be cut . The love track between Amitoje Mann and Monalisa is amateurishly handled while Sunny Deol-Polina should have had more meat to offer.

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Sunny Deol leads the show with panache and shows his tenacity and flair in the action hero mold. 'Kaafila' offers a wide range and variety of actors that come from TV, stage and theatre. However, none of them shows any great promise. Sudesh Berry's overacting in emotional scenes is a major minus point. Amitoje Mann's deadpan face and unimpressive body language make him a non-actor. The rest of the star cast hardly creates any major impression as they work mechanically according to the demand of the script.

Sukhwinder Singh's music gives some moments to cherish in "Sandese Aaya" and "Kabhi Sapne Bhi" but the rest of the numbers decimate the pace of the film. Cinematography by Nazir Kader Khan is impressive and carries the urbane beauty of Russia and desert looks of Afghanistan and Tajakistan with great success. The scene showing sea storm is the highlight that also features in the promos. Fights And stunts of Hanif Sheikh are well conceptualized in the climax where Sunny Deol fights his heart out to save immigrants. Director Amitoje Mann has tried too hard in proving himself as a competent filmmaker . However, tedious and wearisome concepts need great vision and intellect. In spite of all this, he has to be applauded for attempting an innovative and relevant concept to make his mark in Hindi filmdom. Due to low promotion and mediocre face value it will face hard times at the box office. It's expected to to do better at multiplexes while its response in single screen theatres will be from average to poor.

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