Sunday 20 September 2009

Refugee (2000)

While many bollywood stars hide and shriek when asked about their debut film, Kareena and Abhishek need not worry as their debut movie is a pretty impressive one

The backstory of the film is set in 1971 with the Bihar who had settled in East Bengal (a part of Pakistan) for a better life, things take a change when East Pakistan becomes Bangladesh, thus resulting in the these Muslims from Bihar seeking a new Refuge once more

Manzoor Khan (Kulbushan Kharbanda) happens to be one of the Bihars who lands in India wanting to cross the border into Pakistan with his family

They're led to Jaan Mohammed (Anupham Kher) the village senator who introduces them to Refugee (Abhishek Bachchan) who helps people across the border

Refugee helps take Manzoor Khan and his family across the border into Pakistan to meet his brother Atta Mohammed (Avtar Gill)

Refugee is a stand-offish & quite cold individual who doesn't get personally involved with the strangers he helps across the border, things change when he sets eyes on Manzur Ahmed's daughter Naaz (Kareena Kapoor)

Following his love for Naaz (Kareena Kapoor), Refugee keeps making the journey to Pakistan to see her

Ashraf (Suni Shetty) a Pakistani ranger falls for Naaz as well, he asks her hand in marriage from Manzoor Khan who is only glad to give her away unknown to Manzoor however is his daughter's love for Refugee

On the other side of the border in India Raghuvir Singh (Jackie Shroff) is suspicious about people crossing the border, he gets Jaan Mohammed to do regular headcounts to keep the population in check

Things take a turn when Refugee unknowingly helps Makka a terrorist into India.
Makka (Ashis Vidyathi) aware of the headcounts kills a villager and then takes upon his identity

On the other side of the border in Pakistan during a headcount search for a terrorist Manzoor's family are outed as Bangladeshi

Manzur Khan reasons and pleads his case, he explains a catch 22 situation where he explains how they're seen as traitors who had helped Pakistani and over here they're considered aliens

Events take another turn when Naaz tells her parents of her plans to marry Refugee and not Ashraf who her parents had promised her in marriage to

Refugee on the other hand faces hardship on the otherside when he's trapped in a terror foil

Will Refugee and Naaz get to see each other again? How will Naaz's parents handle her decision to marry Refugee and not Ashraf? Will Ashraf backoff or be a gentleman and respect Naaz' wishes?

Overall Refugee is an enjoyable watch and at just under 3hours 30minuto it kept my attention which i guess is due to the interesting storyline and amazing cinematography, its beautifully shot with great views of the Rann desert

At the heart of the film is that Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are all one which on its own is a great message, however as i watched this movie after previously viewing the director J.P. Dutta's Border, which was somewhat anti Pakistani i can't help but feel the director was trying to right some wrongs

I liked Sunil in this, his character as Ashraf could have become the atypical film villain out to avenge his broken heart

Very natural performances from Kareena and Abhishek as well, given this was their first film Kareena and Abhishek were utterly impressive, they seemed natural and tended not to overact which i believe is a combination of their talents as well as the director's sternness

I was also delighted to see my beloved Reena Roy in a small role as Jaan Mohammed's wife, Reena is one of my favourite actress from 70's-80's bollywood

Excellent Music from Anu Malik, if i had to Pick my top five Music directors both old and new Anu Malik would definitely be there. The music of this film is utterly beautiful and is one of the reasons i can watch this film over and over again, from the joyful 'Aisa lagta hai' which celebrates the joys of young love, the awesome Rhythms and chorus of 'Jise tu na mila', the wonderful lyrics of 'Panchi Nadiya' which explores the freedom and borderless nature of birds a metaphor for restrictions on human immigration, the romantic 'taal pe jab yeh' (watch as kareena and Abhishek do a cute dance very similar to Masakali towards the end) but my favourite and the one song that kept lingering in my head after watching this film is 'Mere Humsafar mere paas aa' sang by the wonderful Alka Yagnik (i love this woman her voice invokes so much emotions in me)

Total Score: 7/10 (A well packaged commercial socio-political entertainer)

Kareena and Abhishelk should really be proud of this film as their debut. In the Yash Raj films dvd extras we get to see proud parents in the form of Big B and Jaya supporting their son of course

And Randhir Kapoor and Babita supporting their Bebo


Nicki said...

Did you know that Refugee was suppose to be Bipasha's debut film? I'm sad that she wasn't able to do it either :(

Refugee was a good film too.

Bollyviewer said...

This sounds interesting. I remember all my guy friends going gaga over Kareena, when this film came out! ;-) I missed watching it back then, but I guess I should try it - just to see Abhishek-Kareena's debut, if nothing else!

Anonymous said...

I remember having seen this one in a really shoddy theatre - an ad agency I was working for at the time provided free passes for me and a friend. I didn't much like the film, mainly because I find Sunil Shetty hard to bear, plus I didn't much like Abhishek Bachchan (I think he's much better now!). And the end was a little too corny for me... but yes, the music's nice.

bollywooddeewana said...

@ Nicki really, i never knew that, i can't imagine what this film would ahve been like with her. Kareena suited it to a T

@bollyviewer yes its worth watching on that note, I really liked them both indeed

@ dusted off I do agree it was somewhat corny hence why i labelled its as a well packaged socio polical commercial movie. Sunil i don't mind that much, i think he's quite adorable. I haven't seen too much films with Abhishek, this is the third film i'm seeing him in and i thought he wasn't shabby for a newbie

Daddy's Girl said...

I've always wanted to see this for the debuts of these 2 stars, and it sounds very good.
I love Alka Yagnik too - her output can be a bit uneven, but on her best days she manages to infuse so much emotion into her voice, and it's just SO beautiful. Wanted to let you know there's a series I think you might like over at (Sanket's blog). Check it out, if you haven't yet.

bollywooddeewana said...

@ Daddy's Girl it is quite good indeed. Alka is one of my fave playback singers, i don't know how i'll rank her amongst my other favesbut she's definitely up there & i'm indeed familiar with Sanket's blog thanks for pointing it out again

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