Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Fim Review: Fanaa

What does one say of a director who manages a casting coup of sorts (Aamir Khan and Kajol are, arguably, Hindi cinema's best leading actors at the moment), and yet screws it all up by making a shoddy excuse of a movie? Kunal Kohli, who after torturing us with the disastrous 'Mujhse Dosti Karoge' - yeah, sadly I watched that too - opted to play safe by doing a desi version of 'When Harry Met Sally' (i.e. 'Hum Tum') minus the fabulous orgasm-scene, botches it up yet again. Everybody knows the story by now, I guess; for those who don't, its a dumbed-down, badly directed version of 'Dil Se'. Anyway, the movie is so sick I just had to write about it, so here goes:

An chinky-looking tourist guide (Aamir Khan, with more wrinkles than Jackie Chan) tries hard to woo the visiting Kashmiri lass (Kajol). IMO, one of the few intelligent things about the screenplay was making the girl blind; its sorta hard to imagine anybody else falling head-over-heels in love with this particular sicko shayari-spouting guide. To cut things short (and avoid umpteen shayari-bantering scenes), he flirts, she responds, he backs off, she becomes horny, they make love and lo - the inevitable happens: the babe-in-the-woods is now pregnant.

Now, Kajol does try to call her parents for advice before hopping into bed for what would be her first desi love-making scene (you know, the kind where the people making love are all cosily wrapped up inside satin bedsheets so that only their shoulders are visible, and the enthusiastic actors try to comepensate & enliven the procedure by furiously necking) on screen. Her mom Kiron Kher hogs the call, not allowing poor li'l fat daddy Rishi to talk to darling horny beti. Now, I am sure he wanted to talk about safe sex to his horny daughter, but because Kiron did not give the phone to him, Kajol did never realize the vritues of safe sex, and she became pregnant. Public Message 1: So all ya Kashmiri gals visiting Delhi, make sure you listen to your respective dads!

Well, getting back to the story (hic!), Aamir now takes Kajol to a bald doctor speaking in some strange wacko accent, who provides what seems to be Public Message 2: keep visiting your doctors, as medical science is progressing by leaps and bounds, and anything may be possible tommorow. Of course, the hefty consultation fees are but a minor incovenience. I bet the director's dad was a bankrupt doctor or something - any takers for this theory? But I digress: after delivering the public message, the bald doc promises a sucessful 'retinal transplant' and wheels off poor Kajol to what is presumably the OR. When she wakes up, hey presto: she can see! But by this time Aamir is AWOL, and presumably dead (Kajol acts well in this scene). But then comes the proverbial twist in the tale: Aamir is very much alive, and is in fact a dreaded international terrorist (a much trimmer and better-looking terrorist at that), who happened to fall in lust (sorry, love) with the blind Kashmiri lass. And then there's poor Tabu, a hotshot member of some obscure (well, given that the only other hotshot member seems to be Sharad Saxena, I bet it has to be pretty obscure) anti-terrorist squad - she must have been in need of some desperate money to have even given a moment's thought at this role.

The post-interval events are, in comparison, more entertaining; cliched and hackneyed though they may be. The terrorist organization now (that is, after 7 years) has a nuclear bomb, and Aamir has infiltrated a militray base to get his hands on the last piece (the 'trigger'). But then, Tabu's hot on his heels, and after a Bond-like chase sequence Aamir is injured badly enough to take shelter in a house (who else, but Kajol's). But of course, Kajol doesn't recognize Aamir (she was blind then, duh!). Possibilties of yet another love-making scene, where Kajol would recognize Aamir by the 'feel' of him, did cross my mind; but the director resorts instead to the antakshari phenomenon for the oh-my-gawd-its-him scene (I thought shayari would have been more appropriate, considering all that speil in the first half, but never mind!). Aamir and Kajol manage to make this stupid scene work, and that's quite a herculean task, believe me. Oh, and before I forget, there's the mandatory cute-as-a-button kid as well: the result of Kajol not listening to her 'experienced' dad. Rishi, I suspect, probably did the movie for all the free Scotch whiskies he was seen gulping throughout the movie.

The logical (a misnomer if there ever was one, I know) culmination follows: Aamir recuperates and even bathes the child (this is not the damn climax, ok!). But then Tabu (yeah, she was thinking all this time) has the bright idea of sending out televised warnings about a diminutive but dangerous man, and Rishi & Kajol get the picture. So Aamir bumps off Rishi, and Kajol bumps off Aamir. From a flying helicopter, Tabu shoots down the head of the terrorists, who is in yet another helicopter enough! Whew !!!

The sad part is that despite the hackneyed plot, the screenplay does have its moments (especially in the post-interval portions). For instance, Tabu argues briefly about a referendum on Kashmir, a topic hitherto left unexplored in cinema. There is also a subtle undercurrent of animosity between Tabu and her colleague, which remains unexplained and unexplored until the end (compare this to how well the relationship between the characters of Aamir and Mukesh Rishi was conveyed in 'Sarfarosh'). In the climax (clearly 'inspired' from Ken Follet's 'Eye of the Needle'), Aamir displays a fanatic steeliness to his character that could have made for cinema in the hands of a competent director.

Kajol, appearing on screen after a brief hiatus, is effective. Her character is essentially a repeal of her meek, obedient, docile sister-act in 'Dushman' and 'Kuch Khatti, Kuch Meethi' (yeah, I know, I am entirely jobless!). Oh, she's Kashmiri, so she dutifully throws in an 'abbu' and 'ammi' every few sentences - must be due to all the hard work that Kunal Kohli put in researching the Kashmir ethos, you know. Still, Kajol looks as radiant as ever, and her sheer presence is infectious. She plays a large role in salvaging this crappy movie.

Aamir Khan, whose new-year resolution seems to be to become this generation's Manoj Kumar (there's Sunny Deol in the fray too, but that's another story), plays the terorist, who is also supposed to be a master-of-disguises. Well, his first disguise was certainly very effective; in the pre-interval portions Aamir looks OLD and sorta plump as well. However, in the second half of the movie he looks as young and active as ever. On the emoting front, he is competent; however the absence of a strong screenplay jars.

Tabu is convincing. Rishi looks the part. Kiron Kher is fast becoming the female Alok Nath, which would be a shame given her considerable talent. Sathish Shah and Shiney Ahuja appear have miniscule screen time, and are roped in for the sole purpose of illustrating how ruthless Aamir is.

Verdict: Give this one a miss!