'Fitoor' review: Keep 'No Expectations'
'Fitoor' review: Keep 'No Expectations'
By: Sonia Chopra
Friday 12 February 2016
Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari, Akshay Oberoi
Great Expectations, one of my favourite books, that has been adapted in Fitoor, left me wondering whether films should be obligated to conduct themselves responsibly when picking up such iconic literature.
Like, not taking the revered literature and turning it into a gimmicky cinema that is visually entrancing but emotionally numb.
The film starts in Kashmir, where we see a little boy Noor helping out a wanted man, a militant on the run. Then on, the other characters tumble out - the beauteous Estella, here Firdaus. Ms Havisham from the book becomes Begum (Tabu), a wealthy heiress prone to using heavy-duty Urdu words in regular conversation. Noor falls for Firdaus (they're both adolescents at the time), and she has to ask him to stop staring on several occasions, so bothersome is his way of expressing his attraction. Begum notices his attraction towards Firdaus, and encourages their friendship, while suddenly sending Firdaus away for further studies.
Noor's life changes as well, when he falls into great wealth from a secret benefactor. An artist now, Noor is successful and rich, but still pining for Firdaus who is now settled in London.
The book was incredible for the rich tapestry of characters that wove in and out of each other's lives. While it is too much to expect a film to honour that, it's disappointing to see some of the major characters rendered superficially in the film.
Ditto with the character equations and romance! There is none of the innocence, pining, and patience. Here, the central character, in fact, comes off as a tad creepy, someone who won't stop staring even it bothers the girl, kisses her even when she says 'no', and makes an embarrassing scene in front of her fiancé.
In fact, it is the unconvincing characterization of Noor that is the film's central flaw. Where is the angst in his village life? Where is the complex relationship with his brother-in-law? Even the friendship angle, so important in the book, is missing here. While Aditya Roy Kapoor looks the part, he doesn't make us connect or care for the character.
And Firdaus. Where is her feistiness and spitfire attitude? Where is the stone-cold heart that could ruin lives? Here the film does get it right when it comes to the casting. Katrina Kaif does bring across Firdaus's inaccessible beauty nuance, but the film needed to add far more layering to this fascinating character. Just describing a character repeatedly as, "Pari se bhi jyaada haseen" doesn't cut it.
Tabu is pretty much the scene-stealer here, though it's a somewhat repetitive act for her after Haider. Again, her character hasn't been fleshed out fairly, and she's left to portray the cliché of a wealthy matriarch wearing ornate clothes, jewellery and disposition in today's times. The constant decay of the character in the book, including her bizarre insistence on wearing her wedding dress every day has been excluded. We do get one intense scene that explains her disturbed state of mind, but the bland reactions from the other actors lets the scene down.
Abhishek Kapoor (Rock On!!, Kai Po Che) attempts a grand, exotic adaptation of a much-loved story. But he misses out on the soul under all the exotically captured locations and the spell-blindingly beautiful clothes.
He resorts to gimmicks like a sudden bomb blast in the middle of a happy scene. And I had to rub my eyes to check if it was actually thunder and lightning in the background in an emotional scene! The dialogue overdoes it with the grandeur.
Not to mention the sexist interludes added throughout the film. From the staring passing off as affection, to Begum telling Firdaus she is going to be somebody's "amaanat" after marriage, to Begum remarking that Firdaus should marry because the mansion needs a man now, to someone passing off bad driving as "driving like a girl".
Apart from the ladies – Tabu's powerhouse act despite the weak characterization, and Kaif's luminous beauty-the only aspect of the film that works is the beautiful cinematography. The clothes also, yes, are exquisite. But all this artistry contributes only so much. What's the point if we don't connect to the characters and the story?
If you love Great Expectations, keep no expectations from this one. Else, be prepared to entranced by the visual splendor of the movie, and be disappointed by the lack of emotional connect.
Fitoor Review Rating: 2.5 stars