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Published May 26th, 2006 | by Raam Tarat

Fanaa Review

Classification: 12 Director: Kunal Kohli Rating: 3/5

‘Destroyed in love’ goes the tag-line. If only they’d done the same with the script. For what truly could have been achieved with these powerhouses of talent – the mind boggles… Fanaa tells the story of blind Kashmiri student Zooni (Kajol) who comes on a college excursion to the capital [Delhi] to take part in Republic Day celebrations. Here she meets and falls for the wily charms of philandering guide Rehan (Khan). Vagabond, charmer, poet; with a secret so frightening, it threatens to rock Zooni’s world – literally.

His raw alacrity and her inherent (blind) faith in him bind them together, and for a person that initially denies the notion of love he soon succumbs to her innocence. Rehan admits he only believes in fulfilling his needs and doesn’t believe in emotions; he tries and fails to push her away. But as Zooni says she only believes in love, those very words stir something inside Rehan. Thus follows a rather rushed Nikaah (marriage) and Zooni regains her sight after an operation (Bolly cinematic licence). At the same time she gets news of a terrorist attack on Parliament House, and that Rehan is one of the innocent citizens that has perished in the attack. Zooni then returns to Kashmir with her parents, and gives birth to Rehan’s child. A few years on, an unexpected visitor arrives…

This is unfortunately a case of not living up to the hype. With the powerhouses of talent that are Khan (after Lagaan, The Rising, Rang De Basanti) and Bollywood’s numero uno Kajol (in her first film since 2001) expectations are sky high. Kohli’s last film Hum Tum was one of the more seasoned attempts at a mature love story, though a measured contemporary take on When Harry Met Sally.

Despite the casting coup and the biggest production house in the business, there is nothing in Fanaa to make you think, smile or sit up, it is simply a bagful of clichés, the only redeeming factor being the chemistry between the leads. Indeed their electric presence fires up the screen, beckons your attention and rises well above the damp squib of a script. If anything, Khan and Kajol’s sparks of brilliance make an incredible connection with the viewer; Kajol with an effortlessly effervescent screen presence and Aamir with his sheer versatility and conviction. Even though the character of Rehan hasn’t been fully etched out and his intentions are questionable, Khan’s integrity puts any qualms you may have to bed.

One did expect the film to have some semblance of integrity, heightened sensibilities, and a well thought out / researched plot. The collective skills of leads alone should have ensured cinematic brilliance, coupled with this production house and director we were expecting a theatrical experience close to Casablanca… What we get is a bland nonsensical script full of cliché. Post and pre-interval portions also lack any consistency whatsoever. The first half an immature carefree love story set in Delhi, the second half family drama / terrorist plot / emotional journey / Action Man stylee nuke strikes in snow-capped Kashmir… Exactly. The latter half again has no semblance of plot, simply a series of unbelievable coincidences.

What attracted the two most exclusive, highly-regarded and sought after Indian superstars to do something so distinctly average beggars intense discussion. Logic takes a dive here, but this isn’t usually an issue in Bollywood, as a taut screenplay and pacy direction usually don’t give you time to think and make up for that. Think ‘sluggish’ and you’ll get the gist. Yet it isn’t all bad, high-points are the hugely engaging leads, a couple of the songs get your body swaying, and the cinematography – well, visually it is faultless. This is what is popularly known in India as ‘timepass’ meaning if you’ve nothing better to do… Verdict – If you’re suffering from acute insomnia, buy a ticket and slip in at the interval.

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