Bollywood Comes to Toronto

In such a celebrity-obsessed culture, it’s actually a surprise to see a line of screaming fans and have no idea who they are calling for.

“Is there some big stars in this?” we asked a young girl standing in line, clutching an autograph book. “They’re big in India,” she answered. We had stumbled on to some Bollywood superstars in town for the premiere of Kabul Express, as John Abraham, Bipasha Basu and Arshad Warsi walked the Elgin’s red carpet, bringing some excitement to a usually dull end of the Toronto Film Festival. It was pandemonium. Girls were screaming and waving posters as a sea of camera flashes lit the length of the carpet. Theatre staff had to link arms to keep the crowd back, but another woman said if this has been India we wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere near them. Very entertaining.

The film itself was an odd mixture of road trip buddy movie and part political commentary on war and conflict. Kind of like Three Kings, but played more for laughs. Filmed entirely in Afghanistan (the crew was held at gunpoint during production) two Indian journalists are dropped, literally into Afghanistan just before the U.S. invasion, searching for an interview with the Taliban. They are promptly captured by a Talib, who forces them, their driver and an American photographer to take him to the Pakistani border.

They argue over who started the war, the best cricket players in the world and what’s better, Coke or Pepsi. "This is what the Americans do -- pump all the oil out of a country and fill it with Coke and Pepsi!" says the Talib, who is secretly part of the Pakistani military. Soon it becomes clear that political loyalties are paper-thin when it comes to war.

Top: John Abraham and Bipasha Basu walk the red carpet; Bottom: John Abraham and Arshad Warsi before the film

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