Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi in 2012. That is an incredibly tall order for a film which finally finds a theatrical release, almost 2 years later. Riding on no significant star value, Filmistaan is one of the rare films which are a testament of heresy to the pervasive opinion about non-mainstream films. Yes, this is a ‘supposedly offbeat/arthouse’ film which is a comedy and a good one at that. That apart, it is also fresher than a million other trashy mainstream comedies we get to see. Yet, that it is not a flawless film and what joy would it have been if it was!
Filmistaan is the story of Sunny Arora (Sharib Hashmi) who is a struggling/aspiring actor in the Hindi films. He mimics famous stars with much prudence but cannot land a significant role in any film. He chooses to become an assistant and goes with a foreign crew to shoot in the interiors of Rajasthan. A set of extremists mistakenly kidnap him instead of the Americans and take him to Pakistan, where he is held hostage for a few days. What unfolds after that it is an endearing tale of the futility of national divide and an unadulterated love for the art and craft behind making films, all of it done with a generous dose of smart humor, much of which pays homage to Bollywood. Kakkar deserves a hat tip for picking an innovative subject and doing much justice to it, save for the fact that he fails to engage your interest in the second half of the film. Once it has been established that the film is more than just being about Sunny’s escape from Pakistan, it hurts its own intentions that the film does not capitalize on the available options, such as Sunny’s deepening relationship with Aftab (Inaamulhaq, a phenomenal performance there). Kakkar fails to exploit the action premise to its full capacity but does a great job in paying an ode to our films. Notice the scene where the terrorist threatens to throw Sunny’s film camera or where ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’ plays for the first time in the village and Sunny is restless inside the lockup. Any true film lover, and specially aspiring filmmakers like me, could feel the jitters running down the spine as the sheer love for this world is on display without a cheated sentiment. Personally, few moments in the film got me crazily emotional about the work I am doing and despite its inconsistencies, Filmistaan worked very well for me.
Finally backed by UTV Motion Pictures for a release, Filmistaan was originally produced by Shyam Shroff, Shaila Tanna and others. Made on a decent budget, Filmistaan relies more on its content which is ardently honed by Nitin Kakkar’s screenplay and Sharib Hashmi himself with dialogues. The zany mimicry bits and the quirky comments are sure to bring the house down and entertain the audience. Cinematography by Subhransu and Editing by Sachindra Vats fits the billas well. Arijit Datta’s music is easy on the ears. Urvi Ashar and Shipra Rawal have done some brilliant Production Design work to provide Filmistaan with the milieu it needs.
While Filmistaan is a film that is owned by Sharib Hashmi, a natural performer, it is Inaamulhaq who stole the show for me as Aftab. He brings a naive innocence to the role of a video pirate, and you empathize with him just because he loves the movies as much as you do. Sharib himself is stunning as well, with excellent mimicry skills wrapped around his natural flairs. Both of them together encapsulate your attention span well enough and keep delivering solid punches all through. The remaining cast does well too to add up to the wholesome picture. Kudos to Kakkar and the production team for getting together such a talented set of cast and crew, considering the resources they must have had going into this film.
On the whole, Filmistaan is a wisecrack of a film, despite being an offbeat one. Its a special treat for every lover of cinema, more so Indian cinema, as it packs the world of films in a portmanteau and delivers it to you. Despite its flaws, its a spiffy attempt that needs to be appreciated and supported by everyone in the audience. The start at the Box Office has not been encouraging and I urge all of you to go out, watch this one and also spread the word!
Rating – 3/5