‘Inspiration’ Charles Dickens is just the first casualty. Fitoor spares no one, not Kashmir, not Delhi, not London, not artists, and not even poor Pakistan, which somehow finds its way into this tale essentially about love traversing social divides.
Meanwhile, having decided that in a film where all of Aditya Roy Kapoor’s hair is bunched upon his head and all of Katrina’s is plunged in a Chinar-esque red, in the hope perhaps that you don’t notice their blank faces below, Tabu takes it upon herself to act for the entire film. Her overladen, overdressed, overwrought Begum has done a hop, skip and jump (should that even be possible) from Haider and Vishal Bhardwaj to Fitoor and Abhishek Kapoor. There is a Ms Havisham in there but you have to search for it past all this, the flowing hair again and those ornate clothes (whatever happened to the sole wedding dress of Ms Havisham?).
So, once upon a time there was a boy, here called Noor , who lived in this innocent place called Srinagar (shot beautifully) where fierce militants with wounds (Ajay Devgn, hard to decipher, but something about Army does get mentioned) accosted children like him in the middle of the night and demanded help. Noor doesn’t think twice which, as we know from Great Expectations, sets one chapter in his life.
The other gets started when Noor and his brother-in-law get called to repair her mansion (‘Anjuman’, no less), by Begum. There Noor meets Firdaus, who comes riding in on a horse, across snow. A sight of her red cheeks and lips, and Noor is besotted. Begum notices, and by turns encourages and snubs Noor in his growing fascination for Firdaus.
So far, Abhishek Kapoor, who gave us a quite remarkable and solidly middle-class Kai Po Che, appears to know what he is doing. The boy cast as Noor speaks with an unmistakable Kashmiri accent, his beautiful and kind sister walks with a mysterious limp that always halts Noor in his tracks, and the brother-in-law is supportive and unobtrusive. Tabu is still getting into the act.
It’s when the sister dies, in a blast, the limp never explained, Firdaus goes away, Noor gets bigger and bulkier (Aditya Kapoor never stays in clothes, upper or lower for too long) and lands in Delhi that Fitoor enters from the epoch of belief to the epoch of incredulity (the Charles Dickens line the film is fond of repeating, though never reaching this particular part).
Financed by a mysterious benefactor, ‘the boy from Dal’ gets plonked from phiran on the lake to an artfully undone studio in midst of could-be Lodhi Garden. There is a Delhi out there where strangers open their hearts, parties, purse strings, not to mention letterheads giving their address as Sujan Singh Park, to accommodate growing artists among glowing monuments, only you may have never seen it. Meanwhile, an incredible number of foreigners keep flitting about. But what do we know?
Instant success, and a by now flirty Firdaus (Katrina Kaif), with ‘a degree from London School of Design’, follow (she smokes, doesn’t she?). However, even as our Noor is following her around with a one-note expression – she reciprocates in kind — he is becoming a big artist who can’t care less for Kashmir (“Itni azaadi kaafi nahin ki mein yahaan hoon”, he tells an appreciative Delhi art crowd). There is more where that came from, directed at the Pakistani minister Firdaus is meant to marry, but he at least ignores it with the backward-look contempt it deserves.
Lara Dutta may be just an art dealer, and hence inconsequential to this story, but she gets to say what we have been dying to: “Itna aasan nahin hota yahaan tak aana. Joote ghis jaate hain.” Needless to say, don’t look down at theirs.
There’s that other quote from Charles Dickens, actually from Great Expectations: Ask me no questions, and you will be told no lies.
Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Star cast of Fitoor: Aditya Roy Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Ajay Devgn, Aditi Rao Hydari, Lara Dutta