By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Monday, May 29, 2006
The industry has been thirsting for a good film that works at the box-office as well. With a majority of Hindi films sinking faster than Titanic, all hopes are pinned on the first big release this summer: Fanaa. Quite naturally, the expectations are humungous and there're two vital reasons for it: Yash Raj and the principal star cast.
A Yash Raj film is special. The illustrious banner has cemented its position as the Numero Uno production house by churning out memorable films and successfully transporting us to a world of make-believe in those three hours, over the years. And if the avant-garde production house teams Aamir Khan and Kajol -- two of the finest talents of Indian cinema -- together for the first time, you expect nothing short of a landmark film.
Now to the question every avid moviegoer is curious to ask: Does Fanaa work? Does this much-hyped film live up to the colossal expectations? Is it worth the price of the ticket?
Fanaa is one of the finest products to come out of Yash Raj. In fact, it wouldn't be erroneous to state that it's one of the most accomplished products to hit the Indian screens in a long, long time. The film works on every level: script, music, visuals, technique and yes, the performances.
It would be gross injustice if one overlooks the contribution from the captain of the ship: Kunal Kohli. While Kohli showed a meteoric rise as a teller of tales in Hum Tum, he establishes himself as a master storyteller with Fanaa. Kohli catches you by your finger, introduces you to Rehan and Zooni, makes you peep into their lives and also the varied emotions they experience -- from joy, elation, euphoria and contentment to grief, distress, sorrow and anguish. And at the end of the day, the proficient craftsman narrates a story that leaves you with a tear in your eye and a smile on your face.
In short, Fanaa is not just worth the price of the ticket, but also the price of the samosas, popcorn, sandwiches and soft drinks that you stock up in your lap while watching the film. In short, Fanaa is an experience to cherish!
Choices... to choose between right or wrong is simple, but what defines one's life is the decision between the greater of two goods or the lesser of two evils. This is the advice that Zooni [Kajol], a blind Kashmiri girl, receives from her father [Rishi Kapoor] just as she is about to venture into the world on her own for the very first time. Little does she know that these very words will shape her life.
Zooni meets Rehan [Aamir Khan], a local tour guide and an incorrigible flirt, who goes from city to city exploring their architecture as also the women. Her friends warn her against this good-for-nothing roadside Romeo, but she chooses to ignore them. She is not the one to be protected. It is now her time to discover life and love.
Rehan is fascinated by Zooni. He truly wants her to see life as it should be seen, in its many colors -- and he promises her, the time spent with him will be the most precious in all her life. Zooni sees Delhi, life and love like she never has before, because of Rehan.
What Zooni doesn't know is that there's more to Rehan, the other dark side of his life that he has kept away from her... something that cannot only change her life, but also destroy it.
Originality is a prized commodity because there is so little of it in Bollywood these days. Of late, critics [and non-critics, for that matter] are fond of complaining about how cineplexes are populated by motion pictures that follow safe, formula-derived patterns, designed to please audiences who want a different version of a story they have already seen dozens of times. While there's some truth to the maxim that 'There's nothing new under the sun,' Fanaa is an exception.
The initial portions of Fanaa may give an impression that it's one of those archetypal Hindi films that follow the similar route of boy meets girl, romance blossoms, song-n-dance routine..., but there's more to it as it unfolds. The terrorism aspect, the emotional moments in the post-interval portions and the climax specifically hits you like a thunderbolt. Fanaa is powerful and disturbing stuff. It is not for those who strongly believe in fairy tale endings. While hearts and flowers are great for a fantasy, this is the kind of expression of emotion that touches a deeper chord.
Any blemishes? The length and the pacing. Most of the times, three hour movies have a few flat spots and Fanaa is no exception. The film tends to get very lengthy and also, the narrative tends to get very slow towards the second half. Slight trimming would help tremendously.
The writing [screenplay: Shibani Bathija] pushes the envelope, taking us in new and unexpected directions. Every time you thought you recognized where the story was headed, the movie surprises you. Cinematically speaking, this is a well-balanced, multi-course meal. Dialogues [Kunal Kohli] are excellent, specially the shayari throughout the movie. Fanaa is gorgeously composed and photographed by cinematographer Ravi K. Chandran. The locales of New Delhi and Poland enhance the visual impact.
Music [Jatin-Lalit] is pleasing to the ears. 'Chand Sifarish' and 'Mere Haath Mein' are two melodious gems. 'Chanda Chamke' [the tongue twister] appeals because it comes at a time when you yearn for some relief. The action scenes [George Aguilar ], in minimal doses, are kinetic and exciting. Background score [Salim-Sulaiman] is topnotch. The sound quality [Dileep Subramaniam] is excellent. Visual effects [Tata Elxsi] could've been better, especially the blasts of the helicopters.
The acting is of the highest caliber. In fact, most performances in the enterprise are perfect -- no hints of artifice or fakery. Yet, there's little doubt that one of the assets of the film is the chemistry between the lead pair. For Aamir, Fanaa is another opportunity to broaden his range. He successfully buries his personality beneath Rehan's, allowing the character to come to the fore. The ferocity with which Aamir delivers his lines and the restless energy he imparts to his character, electrifies every scene that he's in.
It's an altogether different experience watching Kajol after a hiatus. It is her complex work, depicting a woman torn by love for and fear of the same man, that elevates the film to a higher level. Without doubt, Fanaa ranks amongst her strongest works. Her performance only makes you realize why she's still the best in the business. Moreover, she looks gorgeous all through!
Rishi Kapoor is efficient. Kiron Kher is lovable. Tabu gets limited footage; she's just okay. Shiny Ahuja is wasted in an inconsequential role. Ditto for Lara Dutta, who is there for just one scene. Shruti Seth is excellent as Kajol's friend. Satish Shah, Sharat Saxena, Lilette Dubey, Jaspal Bhatti and Vrajesh Hirjee are effective. The child artist is fantastic.
On the whole, Fanaa is a beautifully written, effectively acted and meticulously crafted effort that is likely to remind many viewers of a simple axiom: A movie doesn't have to be groundbreaking to be compelling. At the box-office, the film has already embarked on a record-breaking start and thanks to [i] the massive print count, [ii] the 12-14-16 shows being performed at movieplexes every single day and [iii] the inflated ticket rates will yield rich dividends in days to come. The first weekend business will be historic, the first week billing will be unprecedented and in the wake of no major oppositions for the next two weeks, Fanaa will attain the 'Hit' status in a matter of days. In short, Fanaa is yet another landmark film in the remarkable and enviable repertoire of Yash Raj.