Monday, November 17, 2008

"Kandahar" (Language - Persian/Pashtu/English) (2001) - Movie Review

“Kandahar” supposedly did not get much attention when it came in the 2001 Cannes film festival and got its attention post 9/11. It is sad and cruel for a film to get its attention through a tragedy but the film’s content pictures worse and horrible state of a country disintegrating, decaying and looted by scavengers. In the public eye of viewing Afghanistan “The Kite Runner” as a book grabbed those in a certain element of emotional entertainment while giving the real picture of the country. In “Kandahar” we follow a Canadian-Afghan Nafas (Nelofer Pazira) hoping to save her long last sister’s life residing in Kandahar. Her sister has given up the life of imprisonment under the burka and in her final letter to Nafas has mentioned that she will be committing suicide coming eclipse which is three days away when the film opens.

As Nafas flies in the helicopter of Red Cross which is also a supply vehicle, it parachutes the necessities for the ground base medical facility. When the parachutes are floating in the air, we see the surreal sadness in it. The necessities are the prosthetic legs. There are thirty to forty men with their cradles moving as fast as they can. This is the beginning of very many tragic circumstances director Mohsen Makhmalbaf ride through the dry lands, blue sky and the bright sun in the land of Afghanistan.

Unlike the bland and annoying “Gabbeh”, “Kandahar” has a stream of thought and a story to have co-ordination into the artistic vision of the Makhmalbaf. Any director would have gone for view from inside the burka to give a feel for the cruelty imposed on the women in those places but we see what would be seen and that hurts us more. The audience of this viewing is not the arrogant people who are merciless to the women but the free living people. Hence we see the shame and embarrassment in seeing hundreds of women covering them top to bottom with not an iota of their skin winking the sun light. The ignorance and foolishness of that burns us inside and out.

With a much stronger eye for the characters especially by an African American born posing as a medic (Dawud Salahuddin) in a village, “Kandahar” is a better film by the director. Makhmalbaf shows a land which would very much resemble the post apocalyptic future world most of the Hollywood films tries to show realistically. Here it is unbearable with Mullahs giving pop quiz on the usage of Kalashnikov and Saber to a kid who has been so used to seeing clean skeletons in the desert fighting tooth and nail to sell the ring obtained from it to Nafas. All these tragic images of plundering innocence bring a sense of callousness.

There is a man arguing with the Red Cross volunteers on getting more elegant prosthetic legs for his wife. But why does he need it when she is going to cover it all the time? Or is there a loving care by the man to his wife to give her the best? There is a contradiction of views on that man. What about the unpleasant scenario these volunteers go through. They are out there to help but they are put into cornered frustrations when people want more. In fact as them we feel the unnecessary need for beautiful legs by this man but does it mean we think they should be happy with the sufficing of low expectations? When a film puts the viewer into the questioning chamber without much answer than sympathy, it has scratched its mark.

“Kandahar” while in integrity in depicting the country is not particularly a great film to be fair. It has untrained bland actors especially Nelofer. It has a drag but it is not a film to even appreciate the artistic involvement in it. It is more of a documentary styled with a journey to have the characters surviving hard and the madrasas as a feeding ground literally for food and future zealots. It might not be a good film in arts per se but Makhmalbaf wants to see the land as it is with fictional characters very close to the truth of the situation.

1 comment:

sampath said...

I've been wanting to ask this question for long. Where do you rent your movies? This movie is in my BB queue for long and it always shows "very long wait"

Do you use Netflix? is it better than BB?