Sunday, June 04, 2006

Fanaa A Review: On Loving a 'Terrorist'

This big movie, produced by Yash Raj films was released on 26th May amidst some controversies. Due to Aamir's opinions on the Narmada Dam refugees, Gujarat, with the maximum number of multiplex screens worth a market of about Rs 2 crore, didnt open the film owing to extra legal bullying by the Gujarat BJP and watched from the sides by the state government.

I just want to point out the fact, this sort of bullying has gone unheeded in recent times. Official censorship practises have improved over the years but threats of vandalism have exponentially risen and it is a sad development to have fundamnetalist of any religion, caste or political ideology to determine what I get to watch. I register my protest strongly and stand by Aamir Khan.

Now back to the film. I managed to procure two ticktes on friday, first day evening show, to watch the film. A smart piece of advise if you want to see a film and cannot book in advance, tickets are easier to procure on friday than on the weekends. First for the obvious reasons of it being a working day and the second non-obvious and ignored reason that people do wait for word of mouth publicity before making a rush for the theatres. This is something I have observed in my movie watching habits.

The Movie is awfully long. I suppose running into over three and half hours. It is a story told simply, straight forward in the most basic non-cinematic, non-reflective manner. The camera is there to just register what is on the screen, no sub textual references. The actors say and do everything for the benefit of the helpless, ignorant audiences. It includes you, smartie, yeah even you.

I think it is a movie that runs the normal hindi film course (seven course that include all emotions) of taking you through a detour of all emotions. When it works it does beautifully, but what is true is that, this is not always a smart way to tell a good story. And all this despite such reputed names behind and in front of the camera. I agree big names do not good films make but we expect more from such people who I think are talented enough and that is why they are such big names. I understand it is a hindi film and I shouldnt expect it to go beyond the genre but I found the film boring and never ending.

I plan to give out the story here, so if you plan to watch the film avoid this paragraph or whatever little surprise there is, it will be lost. A blind girl falls in love with a man and are ready to get married. Girl (pregnant but we dont know) medically gets her eye sight back. The hero-boy is assumed to be dead as soon as the girl gets her sight back and her parents arrive to marry her off. The hero boy, Aamir Khan, is actually a terrorist fighting (terrorising both India and Pakistan, yo ho!) for an independent Kashmir. The film steers back, to the hero's terrorist missions and his sacrifice of his love (he did love her after all). Seven years later, the terrorist-hero boy is in the Indian army and on another mission (for the terrorists) and stuck in a blizzard injured and bleeding stumbles on the girl-heroine living with her father and the hero's child(how virile these studs are, one rain filled night of passion in a Delhi low class area and girl gets impregnated;bingo{Sablok clinic needs lessons}). Point to note, the girl was blind when she was with the hero, now she has sight. So she only knows him by smell and sound of his heart beat and such intricate coy-ish details (yeah, you right, I missed the awe some romance). After a stage things get sorted out among them and identities are revealed. However, by this time, the hero is on his final mission and the Indian intelligence or whatever are onto his ass. When the girls father and the girl realizes that the boy is a terrorist, nationalism raises its ugly head and the girl ends up killing the boy and telling her how much she loves him.

I read three reviews before I wrote this. I didnt read the reviews to help me write this, but as a natural reading habit. Rediff has two reviews, one which totally trashes the movie, the other which offers the opposite view. The Times of India review which I read in the 27th May edition is as trite as only Nikhat (nikhatoo) Kazmi can get. Tabu as the anti-terroist officer is so badly wasted, it broke my heart. If you follow Tabu's scenes, you will realize how bad the film is. I mean there is the goddess of hindi films, an awe some actress, if I can be superlative in such mediocre times. Aamir and Kajol do competant jobs, I suppose. I mean the story is not told well, the characterizations are sketchy and impressionistic and the plot quiet incredulous.

I so wish Hindi films would reduce their length to the normal pattern of 90 minutes or so. To sit through 180 minutes is tiring since we mostly get unworthy, asinine, unexploratory, hackneyed plots and emotions. A colossal waste of time and money. This is, I think a big impediment in the break through that the Hindi film industry is looking for. It could be something comparable to what Chinese and Japanese films have achieved.

We also need to get out of this straight on the platter story telling with characters speaking each nuance out for the audience. I do not think such corrections are too much to expect. The length bit is about survival, it makes very sound economic and temporal sense in this world especially with the lack of time that urban residents generally suffer from.

Another interesting observation which two people pointed out to me was the superficial similarity between the plot of this movie and DIL SE. Dil Se, didnt work too well, even for me, I had problems with the story telling and the way situations develop. But emotionally, maybe due to personal reasons, the romance of Dil Se was very powerful for me. So powerful that the lovers dying in that gorgeous bomb blast was a possibility I have explored in my love life so often. What gorgeous thoughts, to die with the one who you love or loved, of course only when the magic is still on your mind. Another such death which I register in Hindi films is when Bipasha Basu kills John Abraham in Jism, that was quiet awe some too. Such fatal attraction can only be resolved by such drastic death, at the hands or with the one you love. Alas, I have lost such poetic feelings now.

Coming back to Dil Se and Fanaa and the issue of loving a terrorist. Dil Se muddled up the terrorism angle in its efforts at sophistication, while Fanaa smartly skirts around the issue. I think this is the most positive part of the film, especially judging the way our beloved film industry gives us lessons in nationalism. How backward are we? Look at the American movie machine of Hollywood and the kind of hysteria and hyper nationalism they generate. No, I dont say we need it or that is a positive but look at how skillfully they do it. This is where Aamir Khan's character in Fanaa suffers, due to the rather skillful handled terroism angle. He purportedly works for his nana-jaan (maternal grandad, this is a first, most maternal grand dad's are nice people passing on maternal traits). That is about it, the rest we are expected to ignore.

Extra Ticket

Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi namumkin bhi hai!
(It is not only difficult to capture Don, it is also impossible.)

This is a movie am waiting for expectantly. Farhan Akhtar's (director of Dil Chahta Hai and Lakshya) skillfull handling of the remake of Don. And also for Shah Rukh Khan's abundance of nervous energy and intensity. The poster looks lovely to me. More over the original Don (1978, Chand Barot) was such a great flick, one of Amitabh's best.


aya said...

I thought it was a very Hindi film...I mean...conventional Hindi films. The same old just followed the conventional pattern of commercial Hindi films.
(Like a protagonist has to be a terrorist or be in a danger of life or something.)In that case, most of the audience who expect this type of story can watch it quiet comfatably...

By the way, what is wrong with Kajol's eyebrow? Is that OK in India?

aya said...

By the way, I did not like Dil Se Sharuk(do not know how to spell)for me was just a starker. I thought, let her kill people.

My problem of watching Hindi films is this beautification of love with idea that there is a perfect couple or an eternal love;the love which is worth giving your own life.....

xanjukta said...

Janaab Satya Sa'ab... kya baat hai... you make the review of a trashy film such a delight to read... i've not seen the film, nor do i intend to... only two Aamir Khan movies have been worth it so far: Sarfarosh and Dil Chahta Hai.. wouldn't you agree?

love those hindi films romances, including the beautification of love as something worth dying for, so much that i shudder at the thought of seeing them ever...

as for the Awe-some romances, where a girl remembers smell, heartbeat rate etc... what is she? ...a police dog cum polygraph? i remember men i've been with through other means...hehehehe!!!! too explicit to mention here...someday in private i shall let you in on the secret....

and it's not their fault....look at the population figures... it is always five minutes in a chawl where our awesome indian numbers have been added to...

As for the controversy, in Gujrat, at least this means the film is being talked about...considering the trash can of cinema that it is and where it belongs... sad comeback for Kajol and Aamir should just give up now... too long, too far, too much!

The Kopa People said...

Nice review, Doc! and here I am giving in to your request!

I dont like the yash Raj movies. So havent watched it yet. One of the most silliest scenes in all his movies comes from his the much loved film DDLJ. Kajol wants to tour Europe. She convinces her father by reminding him about her sacrifice at the altar of marraige. She says some S%$t like "mujhe ek baar jee lene do"..ouch!! It sounded like there is no life after marraige and this is her last chance. I was furious when I saw this scene and to add to my dissappointment the father agrees and lets her go. Had he corrected his daughter by informing her that marraige is not the end but the beginning I would have loved that movie. But eweks! I wish i had a gun..I would have shot everyone involved in the making of the movie and those screening it...and those who awarded and applauded it. there are several scenes in this movie that I hate. Think will write some other day about them!

The yash raj film also promotes what i call the 'myth of love'..and everybody grows up believing in it. They should be sued for misleading those with impressionable minds and a gullible heart...(err...that would make the entire human race!).

Your review of Fanna is good. And honestly I like Dil se. Though I wish some one else would have starred as a hero instead of Shah Rukh. Who would have done a better job?...umm...dont know..Mohan Lal??


satya said...

yeah, I agree with that how beautification of love or the 'myth of love' that hindi films promotes and as the kopa people mention that has been the hallmark of yash raj films.

I also agree with the categorisation of that seminal Kajol line in DDLJ as regressive (REGRESSIVE). DDLJ as an ode to tradition and (superficial) modernity that urban metropolitan India and I suppose what NRI's carps about is quiet crazy and misplaced. We are essentiallya fucked up people with fucked up values. Our media generates its values in the West and we have the self image of being eastern spiritualists and are even arrogant about it. I dont even know what values in me are Indian or Hindu, Muslim or Islamic and Victorian or British, cause even before 1947, we were royally injected by three such different and essentialistic value systems. Imagine what a heady conglomeration of value system this produces and imagine the confusion which results. Do we even know where our values (always used to score points and feel superior) comes from where and how or was it influenced by British racial attitudes.

The 'myth of love' that Yash Raj films churn out year after year....remember 'Veer Zara', and this role has also been taken by Dharma Productions of Karan Johar fame, has shaped and defined our perceptions of love and romance to such an extent that we (I) for a long time started seeing my love life as an freak one and a hindi film charactar's one as aspiratory. To love like Shah Rukh did in Dil Se, to sacrifice like Raj Kapoor did in Sangam, to suffer like Dilip Kumar did in devdas and so on so forth.

The emphasis on purity, overwhelming love, the need to love, to the ambition to love like a hindi film charactar shaped millions and millions of minds.This message of love flowing from the movies was particularly powerful in our society which traditionally (dont know which tradition though) keeps men and women from letting their hormonal flow guide them and fixing boring arranged matches. There was no historical expereince a potential majnu (Romeo) could draw before he took that final leap except draw from the larger than life hindi films. And the genre of Hindi films atleast the mainstream ones have internalised the whole logic of a perfect love...of one love....of first love....of everlasting love. Our folks obviously or atleast the majority of them, didnt stray from the beaten track and in my opinion probably freaked out or maybe faced with such fait accompli reality learned to handle the sexual revolution that urban and not so urban India forced on us naive kids. Under such circumstances, when society didnt have space for this sort of male-female interaction, it pushes people indulging in this on the margins or is ignorant, with no support or knowledge that something maybe amiss and there fore the couples are themselves left to handle such issues. The issues could be rejection to sexual activity, STD's and the most common of them all, unwed pregenancy.

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