|'Once upon a time there was a united country called India. One fine day some villains created animosity between people of different castes and creeds, which ultimately led to a part of India being amputated to give birth to Pakistan.
This didn't really make the treacherous brutes happy, hence Pakistan was further dissected to form Bangladesh...
|... These rodents of the nation are still looking to establish the same feat with Kashmir, but how far will they be successful? Your guess is as good as mine.'
If you think, from this prelude, that this is a war film, you could not have been more wrong. For Refugee actually provokes you to think how petty we become when it comes to matters regarding India and Pakistan. It makes you wish for a they-lived-happily-ever-after ending for these two nations.
J P Dutta's Refugee is essentially a love story with a human touch. Refugee (Abhishek Bachchan) is an Indian, caste and creed unknown. His justification for such a bizarre name is: "Every human being takes shelter in god's created world, so that makes all of us refugees."
He ferries arms, weapons and homeless refugees across the border for his agent Makkad (Ashish Vidyarthi). Refugee is an orphan brought up by Jaan Mohammed (Anupam Kher) and Amna (Reena Roy). His younger brother Shadab (Shadab Khan) is a good-for-nothing who spends all his money playing cards.
Refugee is assigned to transport Naaznin (Kareena Kapoor), a Bangladeshi Muslim, and her family across the Rann of Kutch to Pakistan. Whilst doing so he falls head over heels for Naaznin, who has similar feelings for her guide.
Pakistani Ranger Mohammed Ashraf (Sunil Shetty) too is besotted by Naaznin's bubbly exuberance and intends to marry her.
Meanwhile, Border Security Force officer Raghubir Singh (Jackie Shroff) reforms Refugee and they join hands to deal with terrorist Gul Hamid (Sudesh Berry) and his cronies. After a series of misunderstandings, confusion, tragedies and violence, well, the film comes to an end.
Abhishek Bachchan is unique, I'd say. His stark eyes, shy persona, awkward-yet-appealing screen presence make him so. His voice is strong, all it needs is modulation. He and his closest rival Hrithik Roshan shouldn't be compared one bit. Both are poles apart when it comes to their approach towards acting.
In contrast to Bachchan's rawness, Kareena Kapoor has the polish of a seasoned actress. She is a natural before the camera.
Jackie Shroff appears in a few scenes, rattles off some amazing one-liners and walks away to applause. Sunil Shetty comes up with a sincere performance, though his role is brief in comparison to the one he had in Border.
There is one interesting scene in particular, displaying the camaraderie between Shetty and Shroff, when they discuss India and Pakistan at an annual flagstaff meeting.
Refugee has a huge cast of supporting actors, like Anupam Kher, Reena Roy, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Padmini Kapila, Berry and Puneet Issar. Everyone fulfils the demands of their roles.
Anu Malik outdoes himself in Refugee. The music blends perfectly with Javed Akhtar's soulful lyrics. O P Dutta's dialogues are punchy and hard-hitting. Basheer Ali has captured the arid, desiccated Kutch beautifully with his camera.
J P Dutta has made this film from his heart and it shows. He has extracted wonderful performances from his cast and crew. The only hitch is that the film is three and a half hours long. That may not matter to the discerning, but it may to the impatient janata. Particularly since there isn't any item song or flesh on view.
Truth is, only a select few may appreciate the beauty of this film