Sunday 21 October 2007

Fanaa (2006)

Just as we at the PPCC have coveted Shashi Kapoor and built small shrines to him and paused our DVDs just to gaze at his face and drawn his face and then daydreamed about bumping into him in the street and being whisked away on some song, so has our crush for Shashi burned bright and our hate and wrath for Rishi Kapoor, his nephew, burned even brighter. God, we really hate Rishi. As the Shashi Years eclipsed into the 1980s, and Rishi began to take the mantle of Famous Kapoor for the decade, we at the PPCC gagged. We puked. God, he's just so awful. Ugh. Uuuuggghhhh.

Don't ask us why we hate Rishi. It's as mysterious as our love of Shashi. Actually, no, that's not true. There's nothing mysterious about our love for Shashi. For Shashi has those cute canines, those long eyelashes, that adorable way he cocks his head and lowers his eyes when he sings, "Bekhudi mein sanam!" Guh. Guuuuuuh.

But Rishi. God, he sucks. Hence our mild surprise when, sitting through the Dil Se-but-stupider Fanaa, we felt sparks of warmth for Rishi. Maybe the years have softened that dumb glazed doughy look of his. Or maybe the doughy look makes sense now in older age. But he was really quite cute in his paternal role. And the fact that he was paired up with Kirron Kher, our all-time favorite Hindi Movie Mom, made the whole parental thing so cute and warm and squishy. Awww, poor parents, they miss their Kajol. Awwww, poor Rishi, he doesn't like to cry in front of other people, and so he appears brusque. Isn't that sweet?

Editor from the future (December 2008): Why all this hate, past tense PPCC?! Why all this invective against poor, jolly Rishi Kapoor? No, no, no, this will not do. We take all of this back. Rishi is lovely.

Hamko maaf kardijiega, Rishi sahab! Ham pagal the.
The PPCC of December 2008 just cannot fathom what the PPCC of November 2007 was thinking.

There are other excellent actors and actresses in Fanaa. Kajol, for example, back from her years-long wedding/baby hiatus. Aamir Khan, well-regarded by critics and choosy in his roles. (We at the PPCC remain unmoved by him, but we recognize the appeal.) Tabu, recently rendered exportable by Mira Nair's golden touch in The Namesake. There are also the makings of an excellent plot in Fanaa: yet another provocative, terrorist love story, with sweeping shots of Mughal architecture and sweeping verses of Urdu ghazals. There are likable songs: our favorite being the Rangeela number, which is so bright and colorful. Sing, sing! And so on.

The Rangeela number.

Yet Fanaa falls flat. The change in mood at interval, when a light-and-fluffy romance between Kajol and Aamir's characters turns into an elaborate terrorist plot a la James Bond, is a bit too much to handle. As Filmi Geek says, it gets a bit masala - but without that certain something of masala charm (Amitabh?). It lacks the intelligence and subtlety of Dil Se, that classic of the terrorism-romance genre. It takes itself very seriously, but doesn't seem too sure of what it wants to say. Filmi Geek points out the plot holes (which, indeed, are pretty big), but we at the PPCC were more concerned with the confusion of Aamir's character. How passionate is Rehan about Kashmir? What does he think he's doing? It's not that these questions need to be answered; it's more that the film doesn't seem to acknowledge the inherent dilemma. Kajol's character, Zooni, is pretty clear about what she wants: some hot Rehan lovin', and, when she realizes he's a terrorist, the police. Rehan's line in the end: "Rehan loves you more than you love Rehan," is even more confusing. Is he thanking her? Accusing her? What the hell is going on?

We like it when Aamir twitches to the beat.

Briefly, the plot follows Zooni (Kajol), a blind, naive mountain girl from Kashmir, on her jolly jaunt to Delhi with her dancing troupe. There, she meets the ghazal-spouting tour guide Rehan (Aamir Khan), all long locks and Gap scarf, with more than a hint of misogyny... but no matter. Zooni and Rehan fall for each other, hard, and get married. Yet their happily-ever-after ends quickly after an explosion set off by Kashmiri terrorists and a new set of eyes for Zooni. As the interval bangs down on us, Rehan is revealed to be a terrorist, while the newly-sighted Zooni moves back to Kashmir, thinking herself a widow. Do you see the Hindi Irony building up here? It's inevitable! Soon enough, Zooni is treating a wounded soldier in her mountain cottage, not recognizing that it's Rehan, her purportedly dead husband. Apparently she doesn't recognize his voice, or smell, or touch.

But no matter.

It's difficult to judge the acting here, since there was such ambiguity in the character's motivations. Aamir is hard-assed enough, though we remained unconvinced by his supposed "weak" love for Zooni. But maybe that's because we always find him so cocky. Stupid Aamir. Where's Shashi? Where's SRK? Kajol is her usual, bright self, and she by far outshines Aamir in terms of charisma. We had to admit the whole blind person's self-deprecation thing made us a little uncomfortable though. We've already mentioned Rishi, who was oddly lovable, and of course Kirron Kher is always a pleasure. The only person who seemed at odds with her role was Tabu, as the leading investigator of the anti-terrorism unit. The music was good, but not great, with one children's song definitely deserving the chop. (Hey, we've got nothing against kids singing - see Aa Gale Lag Jaa.)


Beth Loves Bollywood said...

I dislike Fanaa too, although I still haven't seen it with subtitles. I do like that I got to see in real life a tree they dance around. I don't like that Zooni somehow does not recognize Rehan's voice. I don't understand why the writers give her this particular brand of stupidity other than that it moves the plot along.

I have a similarly inexplicable reaciton to Rishi. Poor Rishi. Those horrible Cosby sweaters probably aren't his fault.

"Where's Shashi?" is an important and generally applicable point to ponder.

Indy said...

Watch Fanaa in full screen mode at

Aamir Khan and Kajol have great chemistry, but really cant compare to U Me aur Hum: - Watch Bollywood Movies online free

Anonymous said...

I've watched Fanaa four or five times now, and I still don't see how nearly everyone fails to be as madly in love with it as I am. To each his own, I guess, but for me it most definitely does not fall flat at any point!

~^~*~ k!r@n ~*~^~ said...

oof, how i hated fanaa. not jst b/c o fthe way it portrayed muslims (im muslim) but kajol's performance let me down a bit aswell. i love her, but i dnt get how wen she was pouring tea in th beginning she knew wen to stop. the blind put their finger in the cup. rani was way bettr in black, a role she could nevr hav done. this movie was so over dramatic. like the scene wen u find out aamir is a terrorist and his gotten his haircut (no!!) the way he talked 2 her pic was 2 much, evn for me. then in the end kajol buggd the hell outta me wen she shot aamir and shes jst screaming like a banshee.

NidaMarie said...

Hi PPCC. I loved "Fanaa" but for many reasons had some issues with the plot, too. The ending-the most crucial part--left me feeling unsatisfied. I had to watch it a couple times before I really understood why it happened the way it did--and I still am not too thrilled with it.

This film bounces in and out of my favorites territory because there are things I really love about it (Aamir and Kajol's chemistry, the songs, Rishi and Kirron) and some things I hated (the action/terrorism sequences dragged a bit, and there were holes in the plot, as you point out). Still, I have a certain biased fondness for it since it was one of my earliest Hindi films that I liked.

Your blog rocks! I've been reading for awhile, but due to school haven't had the time to make my way through your film archives...Until today!

Unknown said...

how dare you all trash my ''honey'' Rishi !! He's had my heart ever since Chandini came out. I loved him in Luck by Chance. I swoon every time he's in a new film.

Anarchivist said...

I am deeply amused by your retraction. I'm glad we Rishi-ites have won you over to the cause!