Movie Review: FITOOR (2016)
The novel ‘Great Expectations‘ by Charles Dickens is flighty, whimsical and has a heavy focus on destiny and fate, while never bending to those ideals. It is a very unrealistic story that is romantisized by its main character. So no great surprise when it’s adapted into a Bollywood movie, in an industry known for dramatizing almost everything with bearing in real life.
The movie ‘Fitoor‘, adapted by writer & director Abhishek Kapoor, (who previously adapted a novel by Indian writer Chetan Bhagat into the highly engaging ‘Kai Po Che‘; my Review here) was expected to be just as grandiose and romantic, but fails in those regards.
Read on for my somewhat Spoiler filled Review of ‘Fitoor‘, and let me know what you thought of it in the comments below.
A love story that begins in adolescence, blossoms into a desire that goes against one’s instincts. A boy from a small village, has his brush with high society when he is hired by a rich heiress, completely out of the blue, to be a stable keeper, where he falls in love (basically at first sight) with her young daughter. When the young girl goes away for studies abruptly, the boy moves on with his life, becoming an exceptionally talented painter and sculptor, with memories of the girl as his muse.
Years later, now all grown up, Noor (Aditya Roy Kapur) is presented with an opportunity to become a legitimate artist in the big city of Delhi, a feat he thinks is orchestrated by the heiress Begum (Tabu) the eccentric mother of his love, thinking she wants him to become rich and famous, so as to be worthy of her daughter.
Noor works hard and reaches the heights of an established artist, all the while pining for his lost love, Firdaus (Katrina Kaif) who rebukes his every advance, until she doesn’t, and then does again. The epic love story that ‘Fitoor‘ tries to be is completely underwhelming. Their attraction is a foregone conclusion, with no basis beyond nostalgia. There is a point in the film where Firdaus articulates that they don’t and haven’t known each other for years, so there is no reason for them to be together; a completely rational and logical point. However, her desire to be with him seems to stem more from a requirement of the plot, than anything that makes sense in the story.
Noor spends majority of the movie switching back and forth from intensely stalker-like pursuit of Firdaus, (who is engaged to someone else by the way) to a puppy dog love-sick demeanour when he’s unsuccessful. Kapur’s performance here is incredible. The man spends most of the movie without much dialogue, but conveys a whole lot simply with his facial expressions and body language. And the way that his personal growth from a meek small town boy into an arrogant scorn lover is physically depicted by Kapur is brilliant.
Unfortunately, he is mismatched with his lead actress, who gives her own trademarked wooden performance. Kaif’s own claims of ‘Fitoor‘ being her best role, is now laughable, given that she does nothing other than what she’s made a career of playing; the girl for the hero to chase. Her only effort here is maybe the hours she had to sit while dyeing her hair for this role.
On the upside, ‘Fitoor‘ is a stunningly gorgeous film. The visuals of muted snow filled lakes and leafless trees bathed in sunlight, are impeccable. Cinematographer Anay Goswami frames every shot like a painting and the backdrop of Kashmir is brilliantly captured and enhanced by the technical maverick. Although, when using Kashmir as the setting for this story, I expected that the inclusion of the politically tumultous place would have more significance within the story, instead of just is superficial beauty.
But that’s kind of the issue with ‘Fitoor‘. The movie is almost a romantisized version of what it could’ve been, while ending up a shadow of that possibility. The trailers relayed a depth that did involve more, but the actual story is no where near that.
The biggest go-nowhere sub plot is one involving Begum, whose back story we apparently need to see, even though it was very satisfactorily explained through voice over narration in the first scenes of the film. While Tabu’s performance is unquestionable, her character’s back story is unnecessary to the advancement of the story. Especially when those flashbacks feature another amazing actress, Aditi Rao Hydari playing a young Begum, but with her voice dubbed over with Tabu’s. Such a pointless thing to do.
Being betrayed in love, Begum influences Firdaus to marry for practical reasons and not emotional ones. Which seems fine, considering her fiancee is a highly successful Minister played by Rahul Bhat. (‘Ugly‘) Bhat’s Bilal starts off seeming very charismatic and having good flirtatious chemistry with Firdaus, but then, typical of a Bollywood movie, devolves into a testosterone fueled monster standing in the way of her true love by the climax.
What’s even weirder though, is that it’s Begum herself who initially pushes Noor towards Firdaus in the first place, years ago in their youth. But unlike ‘Great Expectations‘, she has no grand plan or creepy scheme for doing so in ‘Fitoor‘, making her character’s motivations here completely non-sensical.
This is where Bollywood rears its head. Casting a star like Tabu in this role, almost made it a pre-requisite for her to get a meaty role. I can’t help but feel that this character’s subplot was thus expanded simply to meet the stature of this veteran actress.
While ‘Fitoor‘ is a gorgeous piece of cinema, and a great showcase of talent and maturity of Aditya Roy Kapur as an actor, the film’s superflous story motivated by preconceived notions instead of actual progressions of the characters’ actions and feelings, leaves me quite disappointed by a Director I was otherwise a fan of.
How did you feel about ‘Fitoor’?
Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @theshahshahid