Fitoor roughly translates to ‘obsession’ in English. And, it’s a pity that a film called Fitoor suffers from bouts of directorial indifference throughout its runtime. Director Abhishek Kapoor, who had very good last two outings in form of Kai Po Che and Rock On!!, puts up pretty looking caricatures and canvasses in Fitoor but forgets to infuse soul into them. So, amidst the snow-laden, paradise-like Kashmir and Katrina Kaif’s gorgeousness and red hair, there’s something which is clearly amiss. Throughout. Right from the opening credits till the lights are turned back on in the theater.
Based on Charles Dickens’ iconic novel Great Expectations, Fitoor is the story of a poor but artistically gifted Kashmiri boy, Noor (Aditya Roy Kapur) who falls in love with the beautiful and rich Firdaus (Katrina Kaif), daughter of a lonely, Kashmiri elite Begum Hazrat (Tabu). Stark mismatch in their societal standings does not stop Noor from pursuing Firdaus relentlessly, from Kashmir to Delhi to London, and his obsession is also initially fueled and somewhat supported by Begum herself. Things become complicated when Begum’s own troubled past comes in the way of Noor’s love for Firdaus and soon heartbreaks, betrayal and dejection follow suit.
Fitoor’s biggest lacuna is its failure to justify Kashmir as its backdrop. Well, there is nothing wrong in putting Kashmir in a narrative sans all its heavy political baggage but only if you manage to keep your hands off that ‘baggage’. Fitoor does not do so. There are bomb blasts and terror episodes in the film with none other than Ajay Devgn doing a cameo as a militant, but these sequences simply do not add up to the fairy tale treatment that the film otherwise reserves for itself. The fleeting commentary and remarks on terror, Kashmir’s issues, Azaadi et al seem juvenile and non-serious. It would have been much more prudent if Abhishek Kapoor would have exploited Kashmir’s stunning natural beauty and left the geopolitical commentary to the likes of Haider.
The Kashmir faux pas apart, Fitoor also seems to have missed a few tricks when it comes to adapting a classic while having some meat of your own in the screenplay. The most critical cog in the wheel of Great Expectations is the mystery around the secret sponsor of the boy’s meteoric rise through the social ranks. Fitoor falls flat in this aspect as you are never unaware of who is really behind Noor’s quick claim to fame in the art world. The little twist towards the end, which tries to catch the audiences unaware, seems unbelievable and leaves behind more questions than answers. Abhishek Kapoor, who has also co-written the film with Supratik Sen, will have to take the lion’s share of the blame for presenting an adaption that looks disjointed, undercooked and incomplete at places. In fact, the first half of the film has its moments but it goes completely downhill post intermission when the complexity of the original story starts to takes its toll on the film’s patchy screenplay.
But, there are a few things that go right for Fitoor. Tabu almost single-handedly carries the burden of acting and comes up with a believable version of Miss Havisham. Adorned with designer dresses and jewelry, Tabu is mostly in top form, especially when the dark circles around her eyes and the grey side of her character make an appearance. She looks suitably dreamy and comes out triumphant in the league of actors who are mostly inadequate in the portrayal of their characters. Giving Tabu company in some top-notch acting is the little boy playing young Noor (Mohammed Abrar). Abrar with his distinct Kashmiri features, perfect accent and effortless acting is a treat to the eyes and you completely root for him as and when he gets besotted by the young and pretty Firdaus (Tunisha Sharma). The young actress also does a good job of being a heady blend of arrogance and innocence.
But, same kind words cannot be said for the older Noor and Firdaus. Aditya Roy Kapur’s limitations as an actor is on full display here and you wish the director would have allowed him to play a drunkard version of the Dickensian poor boy so that we could have at least witnessed his Aashiqui brand of acting. Aditya wastes what was easily his best shot at some serious, nuanced acting and does little except for moving around half-naked and looking perpetually stiff. Katrina Kaif, on the other hand, does a good job of looking gorgeous and playing an occasional seductress, but fails to emote well when the scenes badly demand it. The lady needs to learn the art of crying. Simple.
Anay Goswamy’s pitch perfect cinematography is another rare high point of Fitoor. The beauty of Srinagar and the Kashmir valley at large is beautifully captured but it’s not just in the outdoors that the camera manages to weave its magic. The interior shots in Begum’s lavish bungalow and the elaborate art galleries are all very tastefully tense and imaginative. Hitesh Sonik’s background score and Amit Trivedi’s tunes (Pashmina in particular) are quite uplifting in themselves but are eventually dragged down by lackluster proceedings on the screen.
Overall, Fitoor falls well short of Great Expectations. Literally and figuratively. It is let down by a below par screenplay, a lead pair that does not really sparkle and the classic ‘curse of the second half’. You might well chicken out of watching an unworthy tribute to a Dickens’ classic.
Rating: ** (Average)