Fitoor

fitoor-poster

Fitoor
Release date: February 12, 2016
Directed by: Abhishek Kapoor
Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Mohammed Abrar, RayesMohi Ud Din, Khalida Jaan, Tunisha Sharma, Kunal Khyaan, Lara Dutta, Talat Aziz, Rahul Bhat, Ajaz Rah, Aditi Rao Hyderi, Akshay Oberoi

Charles Dickens’s novel, Great Expectations, has been billed as a coming of age story where young adults were made to respect pacts and trained in “gentlemanly arts”; the protagonist is taught to overcome the class differences of being a lower class citizen and eventually acquire the love of a wealthy eccentric spinster’s daughter. Not a lot of it would make sense in the year 2016, and Abhishek Kapoor and Supratik Sen adapt their screenplay from the book so as to suit our times.

A young Noor (Mohammed Abrar) is good at fine arts and never seems to go to school. His older sister (Khalida Jaan) urges him to work along with her husband. Begum Hazrat (Tabu) stays in her affluent, but doomed mansion, with her young daughter Firdaus (Tunisha Sharma); Noor becomes besotted with the girl, but is warmed of the probable consequences of ‘losing his heart’ to her by none other than Firdaus’s mother. Hazrat shows bipolar tendencies wherein she encourages Noor to pursue his interests and even enjoy the company of her daughter, and at the same time she continuously cautions him against getting too close to her.

The film follows Noor’s boyhood with patience and some detail. The wide-eyed boy soon turns into a hulked-up, disturbingly chiseled artist who still works with his brother in law in Kashmir. Noor (Aditya Roy Kapur) is still infatuated with Firdaus and learns that she’s been in England for years and that she’ll be returning to Delhi in a few days. An anonymous benefactor finds Noor to be worthy of an all expense paid residency program in Delhi. Firdaus (Katrina Kaif) has grown to have dazzling red hair, just like her mother, and is engaged to a Pakistani politician, Bilal (Rahul Bhat). She says that things have changed and they’ve grown up, Noor is just a friend for her now.

We all know it isn’t that simple, because, hey, it’s a film for heaven’s sake. Noor relentlessly pursues her and there are complications and Firdaus is confused, and also manipulated by her mother. The plot gets muddier and many more popular faces start dropping in into the film. The story steers away from the boy-girl drama, and steers toward the India-Pakistan tensions, Hazrat’s extensive backstory and the unraveling of her psyche. Kapur and Kaif’s ‘chemistry’ is more of a sum of individual parts than a collective output. They have limited screen time together, and they both manage to look ‘different’ for their parts, hence bringing a certain element of sizzle naturally. Also, Noor never struggles with the stylized city life of Delhi, not even with his English, given that he never seems to have gone to an actual school, ever.

Amit Trivedi’s wondrous soundtrack is almost exhausted in the first half of the film, so they can get to the heavier end of the screenplay. Right until the halfway mark, things are pretty dry and straight, even the point of intermission lacked to create any real sense of anxiety in me. The proceedings remain promising and extremely enchanting with Anay Goswamy’s cinematography though, as you hope on for something to break the simmering stagnation.

Fitoor plays around well with its drama when it goes the whole nine yards, i.e. going back to showing the origins of Hazrat’s bipolar personality and immersing the viewer into the deep dark secrets of the Dickensian universe. It feels a little late at times, as the universe isn’t quite Dickensian, and love affair between Noor and Firdaus never quite reaches the titular emotion of the film, obsession. Tabu throws her usual masterclass of a performance to support the lead pair, so much so that they could have had her in the poster for the film just by herself.

tabu-fitoor-poster

Wait, there is one poster of just her.

With all the ingredients for a surefire technically sound magnum opus, Fitoor doesn’t quite run its engines on all cylinders. The film’s storytelling is patient and paced at a haunting speed, only for the payoff to be a sudden momentary stroke of self-realization in one of the protagonists.

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5)

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