We saw Fanaa over the weekend. Rant and spoilers follow.
I have a soft corner for Delhi. Anything remotely to do with its ruins and my heart forgives a million slips of tongue. For instance, when apparently Zooni (Kajol) has her minute of fame on the stage, she mumbles something about how Shahjahan the Mughal Emperor said something about paradise and Kashmir. Okay, first of all – it was Jahangir who said that. Jahangir was Shahjahan’s daddy. Moreover, the original couplet is actually attributed to a certain poet Urfi who wrote this in Persian.
Agar firdous bar rui-e-zameen ast, Hamin ast-o-hamin ast-o-hamin ast!
Trans. if there is Paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.
But I forgive her. A lot of people get the Mughals mixed up. Fanaa is a grossly incomplete movie. It is pretty watchable. Even with corny poetry and shayari being tossed around – Aamir Khan and Kajol are such brilliant actors that you don’t really throw up. The first 40 minutes or so are beautiful. Love in the backdrop of Delhi is so believable. It flows easy. However – the YashRaj touch means that while there are beautiful details, the overarching context is lost. Frequent cringe-ing happens. You wonder what the protagonist is actually like. It would be nice to know what the protagonist was upto in a long period of seven years. Dialogues are not the only way to communicate anguish. The whole concept of cinema is that it is visual. So things can be more than beautiful. They can be full of angst. Anger. Rage. Not just the pretty outfit for the heroine please.
But there’s something that really disturbed me. You see Zooni is a blind girl who very obviously yearns for an intense and intimate relationship. Something that marks the coming of age perhaps. Which is all fine. However, Rehan (Aamir Khan) takes it upon himself to flirt and touch her very often without her permission. There are times when she flinches. But you’re not very sure if Rehan actually gives a damn about her consent. There’s this whole – keep touching and feeling up till she says Yes! – sort of touch to it that had me puzzled. Just a few days back I commented on something like this in a Tam movie. This was no different. The same actions (regardless of consequences) have a different import if attributed to the “Hero”. Crap. Maybe I am over-reacting? Right. I am sure you’d feel very comfortable about a stranger touching a blind girl because he finds her very attractive without her consent. Nice touch. Yuck.
Aamir Khan of course is the super-hero. He manages to hoodwink some top notch officers and a helicopter in a chase sequence which has you very worried about how efficient the Indian Military is. Rishi Kapoor is wasted. (Quite literally. He plays an alcoholic for most of his screen time.) Kiron Kher is too shrieky for my taste. If you’ve seen her in Khamosh Pani, you know she’s extremely capable. Maybe the role called for a lot of shrieks. So after the first forty minutes, you find yourself constantly in cringe-yet-again mood. The kid is cute – but for God’s sake did they not teach him enough pronouns?
See the long and short of the story is this. Blind girl goes to Delhi to sing in some Republic Day celebrations. Falls in love with the tour guide. Has sex with him. He stops her from going back to her home. He meanwhile appears to die in some bomb attack. Of course, he’s a fighter for some imaginary terrorist organisation. Seven years later, some blokes get together a NUCLEAR device, which apparently has one component that is with the army. Tour guide inflitrates army. Tour guide defeats half of Indian Army stationed in Kashmir. Lands up in the middle of a very inconsistent storm in Blind Girl (Who can now See!!)’s house. Confusion. Killing. Tour guide and alcoholic father die. Etc.
One of the most funny moments in the film is when Tabu (an intelligence officer) talks to a breathless Kajol. Tabu now knows that the missing nuclear device component is with Kajol and that it is likely that Aamir Khan will kill her. Tabu looks tired and yawns and says – “We’ll come tomorrow morning”. The interesting bit – the first time they intercept a radio message between Aamir Khan and the terrorist organisation, the whole intelligence team looks foxed and apologetically says they need time to crack the “code for location”. Second time though, Tabu confidently tells Kajol that because of her radio message, they already know her location? Huh? Sri and I fell on the floor, laughed. Laughed some more. Tabu’s character is interesting though. The movie actually has some interesting scenes where male officers attempt to bully a female officer, and make life difficult for her.
While walking out of the movie, I caught one person saying to the other. “Nice to see Muslims as normal people in a movie.” Before you rejoice, please ask yourself why it is hard to see a Muslim steeped in his or her culture as normal. What do you mean by normal? If you really must watch a Tour Guide and the Madam fall in love – please watch Guide. RK Narayan may have disowned that movie, but it is a delightful watch nevertheless. Very importantly, if you must watch a movie about the loss of innocence in Kashmir – please watch Roja.
Kajol is amazing. She carries the movie on her very strong shoulders. Aamir Khan carries the movie on his paunch. However, he’s immensely watchable too. Some of the music is brilliant. You need to watch this movie to know two very important things –
1. How a movie with some promise and a huge budget can go wrong. Especially when the screeplay and direction is inadequate.
2. How not to chase a terrorist in Kashmir, especially if you are in the Indian Army.
PS – A beautiful name like Fanaa was wasted on this movie.