Kashmir Ki Khala Or What I Learnt From Facepalming In Fitoor
If you wanted to see how to take a novel about an orphan's journey to becoming a gentleman and Bollywoodise it, then you'd want to watch Fitoor. But you'd be going, 'Whaa?' so many time through the movie that you would stop caring about the story and wish they'd just show Tabu doing various things - mouthing Gabbar's dialog, pretending to be Amitabh in Deewar... Anything but this.
The movie is based on Great Expectations, they say, and two hours and ten minutes later, you wonder how Dickens would have fallen off the chair laughing, in a London tavern after watching the Bollywood version made by Abhishek Kapoor.
This is what I learnt about Bollywood and why I facepalmed in Fitoor.
1. Kashmir has only 2 seasons: Winter and Fall
The movie begins with delectable sweeping scenes of Kashmir and then you hear the ridiculous, 'Jannat maano kafan oadh ke so rahee thee...'
Which child talks like that? Maybe kids who are out plying a boat late at night in the countryside littered with soldiers and jihadis...
But no matter what happens in the movie or how many years pass by, Kashmir remains snowbound. It experiences Fall twice: once when little Noor runs down from the mansion, and the next when Katrina does the same...
2. When in love, people are afflicted with automatic asthma
Firdaus and Noor are always so breathy or is it short of breath (?) when they speak with each other you wonder if they are suffering from asthma. But I'm told that mouthing each word as if it were your dying breath makes you sound sexy, so...
Plus you also have dramatic pauses between each word to allow the other person to come closer and closer until you are actually saying the words to the loved one's hair or neck...
Valentine's day is just around the corner, so those suffering from allergies might have better luck mouthing 'ai-uh, love-uh, you-uh' or as Katrina is wont to in the film: na-uh hee-uh, mujhe-uh jaa-uh naa hoga-uh!'
3. It always snows when hero meets heroine.
It's as if the director cannot think beyond snow globes.
Heroine spots hero, poof! Snow begins to fall in slow-motion around her face... And her lips part (presumably seductively) you begin to think, she wants to catch a snow flake on her tongue.
When hero spots heroine, poof! Snow begins to fall around his face too. His jaw drops and you think he's going to make snow angels with his chin...
4. There are no starving artists in Bollywood.
We have fancy artists' residencies where beautiful partially naked, stoned, drunk artists party. New artists get humongous amounts of space to build installations (don't worry, magic elves will get that giant bird and the Titanic sized shikara out of his room!)
If you looked at the overflowing food tables, you know that all the artists in that residency have sugar daddies and mommies paying them to look gorgeous and imbibe wine and dance.
And lad who grew up tending horses and drawing embroidery designs in Srinagar is suddenly and unabashedly partying with Delhi high-society even opens champagne to celebrate his sold-out art show...
5. It is always evening in Delhi and London.
No matter what: hero reaches Delhi at night. Yes, he's meant to have breakfast, but it's artistically lit up to look late afternoon (Do artists wake up before three pm, ever?) He meets Firdaus at a party in the evening.
Yes, he buys a car and looks like it is daylight when he drives, but the asthmatic love scene plays out near the Taj Mahal late at night.
In London too, Khala Tabu comes to Noor's exhibition when the lights are switched on, Noor meets his sugar daddy in the darkness of the Wazwaan restaurant, Khala has an episode in the lamp lit hotel room...
6. Love Stories can kick logic in the head
As long as you have Arijit Singh wailing a refrain anything that remotely sounds like 'Ishq' (in this case, 'Mera Fitoooooooor!'), people are guaranteed to be so haunted, no one will notice you have strange characters coming and going in and out of the movie.
Who are the husbnad and wife who show up at Begum Khala's house and attempt to persuade her to sell? Why do they never ever come back?
Where did Talat Aziz come from? Is he the one who was supposedly engaged to Begum? Then isn't his getting his son to marry Begum's daughter a creepy incestuous thing?
How does the dog manage to survive that long? He is a puppy when young Noor and Firdaus find him, They are now 25 years old. The dog still remains young and chirpy? What are they feeding the dogs in Kashmir?
Why is Begum suddenly in a wheelchair? And why is she out there on the bench when she is supposedly the person organising Firdaus' engagement to wannabe Kurt Russell?
Who are the relatives who turn up and are being encouraged to eat at Firdaus' engagement?
Didn't Begum died in Hayworth? How come the Pakistan team of Talat Aziz and co., get visas that quickly for the funeral in Kashmir? Remember how Anupam Kher spent an entire movie trying to get his son's ashes back in Saransh. How did Firdaus manage to get the dead body back home so easily?
What on Earth is the handwritten in Urdu note doing in this century on personalised stationery? Katrina as Firdaus can barely speak properly (no, no, I'm not talking about the asthmatic way of speaking). Her hisni is heavily accented. Where did the note in Urdu show up? Jane Austen homage in the middle of what-the-dickens!
What exactly does the heroine do in Delhi? The note says she lives in Sujan Singh Park. But all she seems to do is look disdainfully at Noor's shoes at the art gallery, or show up at parties. But what is her job at the gallery? Is she co-owner? She says she went to art school, but just wanders from one art scene to another? Wearing skimpier and skimpier clothes?
Speaking of shoes, which supposed arbiter of shoes wears boots with the kurta/palazzo dupatta ensemble in the last scene? Did she have a premonition that she will be running across snow and across the rickety bridge to meet the hero in the last scene?
That brings us to the last scene. But first, a word on the gorgeous Tabu.
Kashmir Ki Khala
Tabu is one saving grace of the movie. The paisa vasool scene (and the star awarded to the movie) belongs to her. The moment she first parts the purdah to get a better looks at young Noor, I knew that I would be able to site through anything. And trust me, even when she's over-acting, her madness is better than the vacuous romance between Noor and Firdaus. I wish someone would just edit out everything else and show Tabu's scenes. I would pay full price.
So now to the last scene.
The movie annoys you at many levels (good guess!). But the worst is dialog. Mind you, the hero is Kashmiri. Has been traumatised as a young boy by his sister being blown to bits by a bomb. Would he ever, ever, consider it romantic to say to the heroine, 'When I first saw you, mujhe laga ki mere sar ke oopar ek bum fat gaya ho!'