Monday, November 29, 2010

Fanaa: Re-visited

Oh, Fanaa! I was in the mood for something moody and I hadn’t seen Fanaa in a while, so I popped it in the DVD player ready for a re-watch this past weekend.

Alas, the film itself is not quite as good as I remembered and I will tell you why.

First, though, I will tell you that the performances were superb, the cinematography is excellent, and the songs are divine. (The sound mixing on the other hand…) The problem I had in re-visiting
Fanaa is with the story.

More specifically, post-interval.

Very specifically, the ending.

(Spoilers ahead, obviously.)

The first half of
Fanaa is wonderful – a muted romance with just a touch of humor and a lot of poetry. (And perhaps it speaks to my steady diet of South Indian films recently that I now find Fanaa quite subtle.) The second half of Fanaa adds a healthy dose of masala, with a big fight sequence, lots of exquisitly longing looks from both main characters, and a nice dose of family values. Yet, the momentum peters out towards the end. Unlike Dil Se, which is KING of the terror-romance genre, the end game of Fanaa is anticlimatical.

I think the real problem with
Fanaa is that it is oddly apolitical. Not only that, it doesn’t really delve into the psychology or the reasoning of the terrorist. While that whitewashing of Kashmiri terrorism may have made the film more palatable to both Hindu and Muslim groups, the end result is that Rehan (Aamir Khan’s character) is lacking motivation. In Dil Se we get a very clear picture of the atrocities committed against Meghna but Rehan is given no motivation for his crimes other than an overbearing grandfather. In fact, we are treated to dialogue upon dialogue about how awesome and great India is. So, when Zooni (Kajol) is given the choice between shooting her lover or letting him escape to bomb India, there is no real choice for her - obviously she is going to pick awesome India.

The only hint we get that Kashmir may not be a paradise is a single shot of a guard in a watchtower at a train station early in the film. That’s it. So, why does Rehan do what he does? Because his grandfather tells him to? Well, that just makes Rehan seem weak-willed and dumb. Couldn’t we have gotten a flashback of some Indian soldiers killing his parents or something? Or his grandfather poisoning his mind?
Anything would have been acceptable.

And yet, despite the whitewashed politics, the terrorism track does carry
most of the way through the film thanks to Aamir Khan’s excellent performance. It’s only at the very end when Rehan is about to be exposed as a terrorist that things fall apart. Since Rehan has so little animosity with Indians and doesn’t seem to care if Kashmir gets free or not, why wouldn’t he just admit who he is to Zooni’s father and cop some sort of plea bargain with police chief Tabu to give up his grandfather, the real power behind the throne. Zooni waited 7 years, she wouldn’t mind another 5. Then, if he accidentally got shot or something, things would be really, really sad. There is the missing pathos – the ironic death.

As it is, the ending of
Fanaa is a cringeworthy take on Mother India that misses the pathos of the original. Zooni isn’t killing her beloved son for her country, she’s killing a guy she barely knows - her husband of one week. And, while it’s not a walk in the park, it was made too easy by the plot by having Rehan (accidentally) kill her beloved father and (unaccidentally) her father’s old friend – and it’s not just that her other option is to let Rehan go, if she lets him go, he’s going to set off a nuclear bomb.


You all know I love over-the-top and out-sized stories but the muted tone of
Fanaa was not well-served by the ridiculously outsized ending.

In American pop culture, we have a word for what happened to poor Rehan –
character assassination. It describes the situation that happens when a perfectly good character is made to do things that don’t make sense just to serve whatever plot ideas the scriptwriter is trying to jam through. So, in order to get from where the characters were - Rehan falling back in love with Zooni and the idea of having a family - to the specific ending where Zooni shoots Rehan, Rehan needed to start acting out of character.

Overall, it’s just a minor quibble - I still think
Fanaa is a beautiful film and Kajol and Aamir prove that you don’t need to be young, anorexic, and/or be-six-packed to conjure up some smoking hot chemistry.

Enjoy some lovely screen-caps from the film! And I’m curious to know if anybody else had the same experience on re-watching
Fanaa! Do let me know!

Hmm... I wonder what the theme of the film is...

Rishi Kapoor and Kirron Kher were
so sweet!

Oh, Lillete Dubey, I love you!

The poetry quoting from Rehan was amazing!

Even if Lilette Dubey didn't think so...

The performances... so amazing... Kajol's blind act was excellent. And Aamir's face...

"Subhan'Allah... "

I still don't know what the point of fakey Lara Dutta's cameo was for. It's not like she is a big star pulling in the punters or doing an item song or something...

Is it getting hot in here or is it just me?

Hmm... patriotic sightseeing in Delhi. Nope, certainly not foreshadowing anything. Nothing at all...

"Des Ranglia Ranglia!..."

How is Kajol some wonderful?!

"Mere Haath Mein..."

Look, producers! You don't need anorexic teenagers and male models to make sexy song picturizations. It's called "charisma."

Aamir... sigh...

Cutest DDLJ reference ever? Y/Y?

Tabu was wasted in this role - she needed more to do.

THE BIG REVEAL! I like that Rehan not only cut his hair but appears to have lost weight since his dallying in Delhi.

NO REHAN! Don't go towards the house with the lights!

What is the consensus on the kid? Annoying? Cute? I can't decide. Rishi is
bahut adorbs, though.

Aamir and Kajol ROCK the slow-burn chemistry all through the post-interval.

He's caught staring at her... and is embarrassed.

But she's so flattered.


Jenny said...

I disagree about Rehan's character not making sense. The family thing in South Asian culture is much stronger than in the west,Rehan was screwed, to go against his family was unthinkable, thought the ending was quite tongue-in-cheek, had me rolling with laughing, after I'd finished crying.( Rehan's last words..roughly ...'I told you I loved you more than you love me'...after she shot him...very dry :)

Louella said...

You mean thing, nothing abt Poland in such long post :P

Archee ologist said...

I was left wondering durign the movie if Zooni was out of her mind! She was vulnerable (blind, young woman coming to Delhi, the rape capital of the world!) and yet she hooks up with a tourist guide she just met(not thinking of her parents who would obviously throw a fit) just because he came on so strongly?

An Indian parent would not agree to let her marry a stranger so obviously below her social strata.

eliza bennet said...

Coming from a culture that obliges the kids to respect their parents and grandparents even more so because they are older, Rehan's character made perfect sense to me.

The ending started to smell with Rishi's face dropping from the heights and there was some sort of suspense on whether Rehan will actually go as far as harm his wife and son. I really felt for Zooni.

I liked the kid but then again I almost always like the film kids.

Githa Vanan said...

I think the film was pulling the audience more to the fact of "his duty or his love" with Rehan's dilemma. But I also felt that his character lacked the menacing factor and whats more he falls way to quickly as well. I guess its a case of cinematic liberties.

P.s. Umm..Its Dekho Na that you've screen capped not Mere Haath Mein. Unless that was on purpose since she has her hand to his face.. :D

Monika Mehta said...

Like you, I was deeply disappointed with the last portions. As you noted, the film, unlike Dil Se, doesn't give Rehan a motive. Plus it seems to be too invested in preserving Aamir's star image as hero. Curiously, we never see Aamir/Rehan kill anyone--the film gestures towards it but never shows it to us. The only killing we see is accidental, Zooni's father. Compare this with Shahrukh shoving Shilpa from the rooftop in Baazigar or even Aamir's own performance in Deepa Mehta's Earth where he is sinister and menacing. And that last scene with Zooni/Kajol reciting her father's quotable quote at the cemetery and both she and the kid are SMILING!!!!! At least they could have just ended it when she shoots up and had her crying

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
.article .article-content { word-break: normal !important; }