Sunday, May 28, 2006

FILM REVIEW: (A) Fanaa

Fanaa- the latest offering from Yashraj Films- isn’t at all unusual: the tale of ‘a pair of star crossed lovers’ is as old as Time itself. Come to think of it, even the movie’s plot isn’t novel: profligacy of films depicting die-hard militants redeemed by their all-consuming love for unsuspecting would-be partners- who epitomises the syncretic nature of a now forgotten 'Kashmiriyat'- constitutes a distinct contemporary Indian cinematic genre in itself. In this context atleast, the shroud of secrecy surroundig Fanaa’s release- its producers remain remarkably tightlipped about its story- seems wasted. Does this mean that one shouldn’t go through the trouble of seeing it?

Well, that depends on whether one watches a film simply for the novelty of its plot or for the way it is told. In Fanah’s case, it’s the telling of the tale that counts. Yashraj is Bollywood’s Cupid: Hindi cinema’s unsurpassable- if somewhat mischievous- god of love. Not surprisingly then, the onscreen chemistry between Rehan (Aamir Khan) and Zooni (Kajol) is simply delicious: prolific use of Urdu couplets - at once flirtatious and powerful- as the characters woo each other amidst Delhi’s majestic medieval ruins during the film’s first half gives their romance an aura of timelessness. Even historical inaccuracies can be forgiven: it wasn’t Shahjehan who compared Kashmir to ‘heaven on earth’ but his father Jehangir. And speaking of fathers, I think Rishi Kapoor is wonderfully restrained as Zooni's doting father. It would be a pleasure to see more of him.

Fanaa's problem lies with its second half: the whole issue of counter-militancy is tackled in a rather cosmetic manner. Even Tabu’s casting as a RAW (it’s no longer called that but who’s keeping score?) officer in hot pursuit of Rehan- who despite his character's calculated cold-bloodedness retains our sympathy throughout the film simply because he comes across as someone who sincerely believes in what he does- does little to make it convincing. The action- most notably a high-adrenalin cat-and-mouse chase cutting across an icy glacier- is reminiscent of sequences from what could well be a James Bond film.

Fanaa's political message is far more 'liberal' than any previous film: militancy effects both India and Pakistan; and Kashmiris have been betrayed as the promised referendum never took place. That may not necessarily be true: Sheikh Abdullah, the most popular leader of the Valley, was decidedly pro-India at the time the instrument of accession was signed with the then maharaja Hari Singh.

Despite these minor flaws, Fanaa is a good film: after all, it is at heart a love story. And both Aamir and Kajol (making a comeback after five years of marital absence) keep the screen sizzling. If for nothing else, one should go and watch Fanah for this. Dev Kohli, the director, has given us yet another treat.

AJ

3 comments (टिप्पणी):

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