Film and Plot Synopsis
In Rock the Kasbah, Richie Lanz is a down on his luck rock manager who takes his last legitimate client on a U.S.O. Tour in Afghanistan to make some quick cash. When the singer takes off with his cash and passport, Richie is forced to find a way to get himself home. What he finds is one of the most talented singers that he has ever heard. The problem is that she is a woman in Afghanistan. Will Richie be able to overcome the cultural obstacles to make the young girl a star? The story is very freely adapted from the 2009 documentary Afghan Star, and was dedicated to one of the stars of that film, Setara Hussainzada.
Buy the Film
‘Rock the Kasbah’ Movie Summary
Richie and Ronnie fly to Afghanistan to perform. Ronnie is regretting the decision while they are still on the plane. Once in Afghanistan, Ronnie and Richie are met at the airport by Private Barnes (Taylor Kinney), who is assigned to them as their security detail. Barnes tells them the rules for being an American citizen in Afghanistan and informs them of how dangerous in can be. Ronnie begins to freak out and states that she wants to go home. Richie insists that they go forward with the tour.
Barnes takes Richie and Ronnie to their hotel which is run down and has sand bags in the front to prevent bullets from going into the lobby. Ronnie cozies up to an American mercenary by the name of Bombay Brian (Bruce Willis), who does not like the way Richie treats Ronnie. Richie goes to the hotel bar in the basement and meets two low level arms dealers, Jake and Nick (Danny McBride and Scott Caan) who share a drink with him. Richie returns to his room and finds Ronnie, his passport, and his wallet all missing. Richie goes out into the night to find Ronnie. Jake and Nick help and take him to a “club” where they say is the only place Ronnie could be. Ronnie is not there, but Richie meets an American prostitute, Merci (Kate Hudson), who seems too smart to be in Afghanistan. Merci is in country to make a small fortune so that she can open up her own real estate business back in the United States.
Richie spends the night with Merci and is awoken the next morning by Barnes. He tells the soldier that Ronnie has run off and Barnes tells him that he doesn’t need any security any longer than. Richie returns to his hotel room to find an armed Brian in his room. Brian tells Richie that he put Ronnie on a plane back to the United States the night before. Further, the mercenary tells Richie that Ronnie paid him $1,000 for the job, which was all Richie’s money, and that Richie owes him another $1,000. Richie tells Brian that he doesn’t have any money, and the mercenary says he has 24 hours to pay him the money that is owed or he will kill Richie.
Richie returns to the hotel bar. Jake and Nick offer Richie a job in order to make some quick cash. They request that Richie deliver some ammunition to one of the Afghanistan tribes on the outskirts of Kabul. Richie reluctantly takes the job and recruits a local taxi driver, Riza (Arian Moayed), to act as his interpreter. Jake and Nick hire Brian and his men to work security for the delivery. Richie meets with the head of the local tribe, Tariq (Fahim Fazli), in the middle of the desert. Tariq and his men accept delivery of the ammunition and invite Richie and Riza back to their village to show their appreciation. Richie goes despite Brian’s recommendation not to.
While staying in the village, Richie hears a woman singing in the desert. He walks out and finds Salima (Leem Lubany) singing in a cave in the night. Salima is started when she sees Richie and runs away. Salima is the daughter of Tariq. Richie believes that Salima is an amazing singer and offers to be her manager. Riza advises Richie not to pursue the professional relationship in fear that they will all end up dead. Tariq refuses Richie’s offer on behalf of his daughter and threatens to cut Richie’s head off if he ever returns to the village. Richie and Riza leave the village.
On the way back to town, Riza gets a flat tire on his taxi. He and Richie discover Salima hiding in the trunk of the car when they open the back end. Salima wants Richie to be her manager and she wants to go on Afghanistan’s version of American Idol. Richie convinces Merci to finance him and Salima and the two agree on another business relationship. Richie convinces the host of the singing show, Daoud (Beejan Land) to allow Salima to compete. It is no small accomplishment since an Afghan woman has never appeared on the show for fear of being seen as an infidel and executed.
Salima performs on the show and sings in English which only angers some people even more. She does not dance however. The performance goes well, but Tariq shows up the next day at Merci’s trailer where Salima is staying and takes her back to their village. Daoud tells Richie that he will have to remove Salima from the contest if she isn’t coming back. Merci overhears from one of her customers that the bullets that Richie delivered to Tariq’s village were defective and will not work. This was done on purpose so that a local warlord can take over the village and kill Tariq and Salima.
Richie, Riza, and Brian return to the village to warn Tariq of the sabotaged bullets. Richie convinces Brian to help Tariq’s village. Reluctantly, Brian agrees to help feeling that the incident will make a good last chapter of his autobiography. Brian arms the village with his supply of bullets which do work. When the warlord arrives, Richie tries to negotiate a peaceful resolution. However, the warlord has Richie shot in the shoulder, and Brian and Tariq lead the village against the warlord. The invaders are beaten by the American mercenary and Tariq’s village. Richie survives being shot.
Salima is next shown singing on the finals of the singing show singing Yusuf Islam’s (aka Cat Stevens) Peace Train. She sings in English again. The audience is still stoic and looks on disapprovingly, but there are a few members of the audience who quietly sing along. Merci and Richie, with his arm in a sling, observe from back stage as Salima has her moment in the spotlight.
Additional Film Information
- Peruse IMDb’s article on Rock the Kasbah
- Learn more Rock the Kasbah information at Wikipedia
- Get Rock the Kasbah numbers at Box Office Mojo
- Find out what people think about Rock the Kasbah at Metacritic
- Read Rock the Kasbah reviews from the folks at Rotten Tomatoes