Fitoor Movie Review

Saturday, February 13, 2016
For those of us who are familiar with Charles Dickens’ stories would know how his characters can remain etched in human memory. The layers that Dickens’ writing brought to each character with the written word makes work easier for anyone who is adapting his stories.
It is baffling how Abhishek Kapoor could pick up one of the novelists most prolific work and create something this lifeless with it. Blame the casting, the lack of chemistry between the leads or Kapoor’s inability to absorb the soul of the material at hand, Fitoor is heartbreaking. Not because it is a terrible film…not at all. But it is too synthetic to come close to the soul of Great Expectations. It is quite ironic that a film whose name literally translates to passion could be so devoid of it.

When you think of the most prolific adaptation of the novel, your mind must instantly go back to David Lean’s 1946 marvel. Like noted film reviewer Roger Ebert had once written about the same – the film created a newer set of pictures that don’t clash with the images in your mind. Abhishek could’ve taken a clue from it for Fitoor. Instead, he and Supratik Sen mount a story that lacks its sublime quality. There is definitely more work put in beautifying the film than in creating a moving story.
To anyone who watches Fitoor, it clearly belongs to cinematographer Anay Goswami who blows your mind with the most eloquent frames. Shifting between ornate and understated, every scene is so spectacular that you would want to ignore the more pivotal flaws. The chinar trees, the handsome man, his resplendent muse and the vile Begum who adds the element of macabre. If Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera was poetry on screen, this is a beautifully sketched piece of art. Snow-capped mountains, chinar trees, wooden bridges, splendid palaces, royal shararas….it is all so breathtaking. We can bet that you haven’t relished looking at a film this much in a while.
That cannot vindicate the fact that the film falls flat in creating a genuine love story which is the driving force of this narrative. The language is poetic but never real. Katrina and Aditya play too hard, tad too desperately, often earnestly to bring in the ambience of the story into their performance. As such it is not a disappointing story to start with but the adaptation lacks a contemporary connect besides being generally incoherent. Why would any man take the mood swings of any woman this much is never reasoned...
Before we give Mr Dickens a reason to turn in his grave, let’s put it out more clearly. The problem is not in the story itself but in this particular screenplay. Half-baked, much to the shock of many (considering Abhishek Kapoor’s screenplays have never given us a chance to complain), the film borrows the skeletal structure of the original and doesn’t alter much to enhance the impact. Dear writers, please explain the presence of Ajay Devgn? Why is Firdous’ twang American despite living in London for years? Is Kashmir’s history even relevant in this story? Why doesn’t the setting’s political context find a memorable mention in the movie? The questions are endless!
Kapoor’s perfection in mounting the dazzling frames is hardly present in his story. His characters never find a way into your heart. The lead couple have no chemistry and the only time there is some visible passion, it must be credited to Amit Trivedi who wins with his luscious song Pashmina. When the chemistry isn’t palpable enough, it is the failure of the love story.
As far as the performances go, the lead pair is honest. It seems the only brief to Katrina was to look drop dead gorgeous and she is a natural at that. Her screen presence is limited and her understanding of Estelle’s temperament is sketchy. Going by the original, Firdaus should’ve been someone who is aloof and alluring at the same time. She is deceptive, beguiling and a breathtaking lie. Fitoor’s Firdaus is charming but fails to fathom the character entirely. Aditya Roy Kapur is not an alcoholic (jeez, thankfully). He looks positively intoxicated by Katrina which is a good thing. His performance isn’t as amateur as one would expect but lacks the vehemence. Pip and Estelle are really difficult characters which needs to be enacted by solid performers. Tabu is bang on, like always but her character lacks detailing. It is a mishap if Tabu looks like she lost plot. Her eccentricities and idiosyncrasies are less volatile than Mrs Havisham’s. If we are to believe that Tabu gave Begum Hazarat her own twist, the results aren’t so gratifying. Engaging like always, but she is a few notches below her best. The scene is which she misguides Firdaus to not accept the proposal of a man of a lower rank, is the only one in which she is all-powerful-out-there-ready-to-kill.
Fitoor stands in a shaky space, wobbling between being average and brilliant. There are moments that will blow your mind – the passion is enlivening. You want to invest in the characters, get sucked into the extravagant world of enchanting valleys and the stories that inhabit its nook and corners, alleys and bylanes…with the Persian lyrics of Haminastu in Zeb’s earthy voice echoing in your ears… Sadly, the only love story you would want to celebrate in Fitoor is the director and cinematographer’s love for ethereal beauty of Kashmir and Amit Trivedi’s undying romance with melody. The rest of it is prosaic.
We rate this film a 55% 

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