Fanaa—the Review

55 Comments

A strong north-westerly breeze is blowing at a certain velocity. Two helicopters are approaching each other in 3 dimensional space with their trajectories being determined by a time and location dependant non-linear function. A person in one of those helicopters shoots a bullet whose trajectory is defined by another non-linear function. Considering the composition of all these forces, what is the probability that the bullet hits the stomach of a person in the other helicopter? Point to remember: the shooter is not a sniper but a criminal profiler.

Fanaa is all about coincidences, improbable events and way-out absurdities (like a terrorist organization which targets BOTH Pakistan and India). You are not only asked to suspend disbelief but to tear it to shreds. I understand that plot holes are inevitable in even good movies: after all they are not mathematical proofs. However some kind of plausibility is essential for a movie to make an impact. Not so Fanaa whose plot itself is a hole: and a big gaping one at that. (I cannot go into the logical howlers in any detail without dishing out serious spoilers)

Which is a pity. Because Fanaa has a lot going for it—least of which is the hype and the dream pairing. But there are just way too many times in the story when even the most brain-dead of us have to chuckle to ourselves and whisper “Kya bakwaas”. As a result, it becomes totally impossible to consider Fanaa as anything but yet another disappointing offering from the Yash Chopra house of production line cinema.

However make no mistake—this is nothing like Veer Zara–an unmitigated disaster from start to finish with nary a redeeming feature (except the music).

With a tighter script, shorter running time and a more coherent storyline, Fanaa could have been a critical winner.

It is technically superb (a breath-taking James Bond inspired chase through the icy mountains—a welcome change from Yashraj’s trademarked chiffoned ladies in snowy climes), has excellent performances from Kajol (who looks slimmer than she ever looked before), Aamir Khan (though age is now telling on him) and even Rishi Kapoor, (who looks exactly like the washed-out, uber-romantic dipsomaniac he plays on screen) and an engaging first half with cheesy shayris, gentle humor and a very bold statement of female sexuality that I have not seen often in mainstream Hindi movies (and again I desist from discussing this more fully here because this, to me, was the biggest surprise of the movie and I want to keep it that way for you too).

But then political correctness, international intrigue and “epic” tragedy enter into the mix, Kunal Kohli is found wanting in depth and the story is found wanting in logical coherence. And so Fanaa goes south despite the best efforts of Kajol and Aamir Khan, the finest commercial movie actors of their generation, to keep it afloat (They still do manage to give us some excellent, albeit fleetingly brief “moments” of good cinema).

Verdict: Starts engagingly enough but ends a big disappointment.

[Postscript: And lest I forget, that Bobo lady (the heroine’s friend) who it seems everyone is ooh-ing and aah-ing about was IMHO extremely unremarkable—one of those endless, brainless music video hotties who vanish from public memory before you can say “Dodo”.

Which is good since the distinction still stands. For at least one more movie.

The hottest sidekick in Yashrajland is Karan Johar from DDLJ.

I can sleep in peace.]

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55 thoughts on “Fanaa—the Review

  1. cool ! i am teh first one to post a reply.
    havent seen fanaa , but ur article on davinci code was hilarious.
    keep it going…

  2. Did u also get to see the trailer of “Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna” – that alone would have been the price of my admission ticket hehehe πŸ˜€

    Kunal Kohli was a good film reviewer – perhaps he should have stuck to it. I did not see this film, and given the bashing its recieved from all my friends, I am not sure if i want to catch it on DVD either.

    Now only if it had MIthunda as the head of terrorist outfit, it would have been worth the troube… Tch!

    Suyog

  3. I agree that the movie was just a waste….I didn’t even get to see the Kabhi Alvida…trailer !!

    Though i didn’t had any major hopes from a Kunal Kohli movie, i am disappointed that Aamir and Kajol chose such a script!!

  4. I haven’t seen the movie yet. It’s impossible to get tickets here what with all the deprived Gujaratis making their way to Mumbai to catch the film.

    But Kajol does look totally awesome in the promos. There should be a law against women looking thinner than ever after they’ve just had a baby. Really.

  5. My friend too gave a similar feedback. That there are way too many coincidences in the movie. I feel your review would have more substance if you didn’t stop yourself each time because you didn’t want to write a spoiler. I suppose that’s the correct thing to do, but you could consider writing an addendum which contains spoilers. People like me who don’t intend watching the movie can click on the addendum link and read the spoilers. Others need not click. I do want to read more about the absurd coincidences. How about it?

  6. NO SPOILER below

    My friend who went to see the movie said “Faaltu, Boring. I wasted Rs 150 on this piece of crap”. He also said it seems like it is an inspiration to them. (a cool terrorist who falls in love and enjoys LOL.. ).

    I think yash chopra knew that this movie is bullshit, and it is gonna bomb. Thats why he was thinking about making as much money as he can in the first week, before the janata trashes it. And hence, the squibble with multiplexes for greater share.

    I think multiplexes are better off not showing this piece of crap. Rediff gives this a two star out of five, and trashes everyone. Like aamir khan – “too old to play a young man, and too young to play an old man”

  7. guys,

    I have not seen the movie till now but would be doing so in a few days. My reason for writing is something else – this perpetual grouse against the chopra-johar kind of cinema that I get to see at most of the blogs. Most of the gripe is that these films are too illogical, bad acting, tooo glossy, shah rukh khan cant act, kunal kohli cant direct, kareenas tits are too big, etc.. Everyone has a right to have their opinion and I am sure that everyone has a reason for their opinions.

    What pisses me off is this pseudo thing…its become fashionable to write off these johar-chopra movies saying that its crap..but still watching it…and behaving in a holier than thou attitude about it….99% people who write off these movies are thefirst ones to see it…

    My request is that – fine you dont like these kind of movies..but then why write about them at all? Why this farce? if you like cinema by shyam benegal, ritwik ghatak, adoor gopalakrishnan, TLV Prasad, Jag Mundhra, Tito-Toni, Sawan Kr. Tak, Lawrence D’Souza, Joginder, Manoj Kumar, or Mahesh Bhatt – then write about it…but I guess that isnt a “CooL” thing to do is it?

    Greatbong – i really love your work, you have a natural flair for writing from what I read and am a regular visitor to your site…but what I cant fathom is that if you dont like this kind of cinema then why glorify/publicise it by writing about it…? isnt this a double standard? Veer zaara was crap – accepted, then why repeat a mistake by seeing a film from the same stable and then running it down? Or is it a “kolkatar bhadralok bombayer ei shob baaje chhobi dekhe na!!!” attitude?

    BTW – this movie, like DDLJ, K3G, KKHH, Veer Zaara, has become a huge hit in India and abroad.

  8. @sophocles
    Farce, farce, farce, fharce, fharce, fhart, fhart, fart, fart errrrr
    coming to the point you raised “Everyone has a right to have their opinion and I am sure that everyone has a reason for their opinions”
    On the same lines everybody has got the right to be bitchy. I watched Veer Jara in 20 mins flat and bitched about it for hours. And believe me latter was more fun. I am thinking about doing the same for Fanna too but Aamir can act (shahrukh can’t) and that may just hold me back.

    @GB: I am not implying that you were acting like a bitch πŸ™‚ Great review.

  9. Also, the criminal profiler was using an automatic weapon, cud have atleast used a bigger gun!! and GB what about the endless string of “babbar shers” in the first half… just like radio city!?! yup I saw it too…..next time i’ll just wait for your post πŸ™‚

  10. Read your review, but I am expecting a post from you on how and why the movie was banned from being shown in Gujarat, and some of our oh-so-tolerant, anti-Communist friendswould love to respond to it….

  11. [shadows, but no one in particular] “I think Yash Chopra knew this movie was bullshit and it was going to bomb”: we know, through years of experience with Bollywood (and indeed Hollywood) that movies which are bullshit need not bomb. Neither do they necessarily need to suck.
    Veer Zaara was bullshit, and it bored me to tears.
    Karan Arjun was illogical too, but it was fun!

  12. Arnab, I have to agree with you almost totally this time. Fanaa was a disappointment, but perhaps it was a disappointlent only because of the standards Aamir and Kajol have set for themselves.

    I bet that the concept sounded far batter when the script was read to them for the first time by Kunal Kohli. Otherwise someone like Aamir would have never accepted a Yash Raj film, and he hadn’t for a long time after a bad experience with Yash Raj in the disastrous Parampara.

    But the flaw was in execution. A couple of songs, including the infantile Chanda Chamke could easily been cut from the movie, although I loved Chand Sifarish and Tete Haath Mein. The pacing had to be tighter, and some characters’ motivations more realistic. There was no need to introduce Lara Dutta. The attempt I suppose was to reveal Aamir’s philandering side. But it didn’t work at all. Sharad Saxena was wasted totally. He can be a fine actor when required (Remember his best role till date? With Aamir in Ghulam?) but was criminally underused. Tabu looked out of place. The kid went from cute (the haldi-milk scene) to irritating, to excruciating (Rahul Dravid).

    The good parts – Aamir and Kajol (imagine this film with Saif and Priety, for example. Yuck!). The other good perfomance was by the dependable Rishi Kapoor, like his cameo in Hum Tum. The photography was excellent as well.

    Overall, a wasted opportunity…

  13. Well i do not agree with you.. Wats the harm in showing a terrorist organization that targets both India and Pakistan?? After all its fiction dude..
    Well the story of fanaa is definitely the run-of-the-mill types. Add to that the breathtaking cinematography and this combo alone makes the movie good.. Add to that good music and the combo of Aamir and Kajol.
    However i agree that the length could have been cut a little and that helicopter scene was totally unwarranted.

  14. @Rohaan: Thank you.

    @Suyog: I saw the trailer of KANK and my first impression was that it looked very similar to the trailer for “Closer”—minus Natalie Portman’s purple wig. I would of course love it if Karan Johar made even a diluted copy of “Closer” just to see how much he can vandalize it.

    @Rakesh: Well it had a scope for performance: too bad Kunal Kohli was not upto the task.

    @Rohini: :-)….

    @DeepThirdMan: Maybe I shall weave it in a future post. Cant see a detailed review of Fanaa—-simply isnt worth that time investment.

    @Apoorva: Aaah.

    @Shadows: I still think its going to be a huge hit——Yash Chopra does understand the business of filmmaking.

    @Sophocles: I have no grouse against anyone. I go to see a movie with an open mind—–I see with my two eyes, judge with my brain and then come home and write a review. And if its bad then thats the way the review is. Just because Veer Zara is crap does not mean Fanaa has to be—-by making that statement, it’s you who are engaging in what you called “pseudo-ness”. As I said in my post, Fanaa is much better than Veer Zara and there is no reason to believe, beforehand, that say Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna will be horrible. Ergo I shall watch it.

    @Pratyush: πŸ™‚

    @Bombay Addict: Thank you.

    @Raju: True.

    @An Ideal Boy: Point taken.

    @Gourav: Corny ! Corny ! But it was okay—a tour guide is expected to be corny….

    @Dealer: Modi might have done some people a favour here for once…

    @RobertFrust: Karan Arjun was fun—I agree. One of life’s guilty pleasures.

    @Sapphire: Kunal Kohli should have stuck to reviewing movies.

    @Shan: Oh yes Parampara ! What a turkey……Vinod Khanna and the blouses—-oh sweet memories.

    @Expellimus: I know its fiction. But its not farce or at least not intended to be.

  15. Arnab,
    Could not have agreed more. The “coincidence of the movie” has to be Kajol finding Rishi floating under Ice. Although I expect comments from you about Kajol’s “Mission : Find Prince Charming in New Delhi”, I still cannot beleive how Amir agreed to act with this script… I smell a topic for another post…
    Good work

  16. Fanna would have been a better film, also if atleast the charecters were well etched out…Our lead man, rehaan…one has no insight in to his past, his ideology (if any!), his beliefes or even his dilemma….

    I think his cahrecter was dealt with in a very poor manner and somehow the viewer didnt really get in volved in their lives…I mean..whether he lived or died…I couldnt care less!

  17. hmmm….To watch or not to watch. Such is my dilema. Was planning on watching because of Aamir and Kajol. From all your review, I am now wondering if I want to part with my money and subject myself to such torture.

  18. A terrorist organization targetting India and Pakistan is just analogus like how BJP plays the Reservation card.

    We don’t want to hurt Pakistanis because there is a good market for Indian movies there. So lets not show Pakistan in bad light.

    I clearly remember, in the past, in hindi movies,we used to refer Pakistan as “Dushman” or “Dushman Desh”. Then the trend changed and we started refering the rogue nation by its name.

    Now I think Yashraj wants to spread Aman and pyar to our neighbour.

  19. I must say this review was surprisingly milder than I had expected. Perhaps the film is worth a one time watch, but I think I’ll still give it a miss.

  20. God knows what were they trying to prove….. nywayz, the biggest screw ups happen when expectations are max…. so much for a 60 rupees ticket…. sighs.

  21. Wah! Wah! The audience must have clapped and whistled when Jihadi Bond Aamir Khan single handedly squahes an entire brigade of Indian Army soldiers as though they were mere mosquitoes…..A real inspiration. And what was that about BOTH Indian and Pakistan being vitims of terrorism ? WoW ! Our brave criminal profiler Madam Tabu wants to save not just India ,BUT ALSO Pakistan from the ‘terrorists’ …..

  22. “We donÒ€ℒt want to hurt Pakistanis because there is a good market for Indian movies there. So lets not show Pakistan in bad light.”

    There is a market for pirated CD’s and DVD’s, however considering how Pakistan has banned screening of Indian movies, there exists no such arket !

    The only reason Indian filmmakers indulge in this is because they are all descandants of Kalidas and dhaporshankh

  23. The hottest sidekick in Yashrajland is Karan Johar from DDLJ.
    Lol!!! Brilliant.

    However, I dont think such a short post does justice to the blunder that is Fanaa. But then, you may not have felt as strongly about it as I did. I thought this movie was one of the most crappiest that I have seen in a long time. Please visit here for the exhaustive stripping that the movie deserved. (Warning – Contains Spoilers)

  24. Just wondering if you are planning to do a post on the Fanaa controversy.. It is really bugging me and while I do not carry a torch for either BJP or RSS, I find it amazing that these people (supposedly intellectual and secular) always find something to say if any of the Hindu-centric organizations are involved, but keep quiet if it is someone else. Wonder what Shabana has to say on the fact that the state govts. are falling over backwards to ban Da Vinci Code – which is also cleared by Censor Board. Take a look at the link below.

    http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=68565

  25. VG,

    All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    Bashing Narendra Modi is the shortest (and easiest) path to get the certificate of secularism

  26. Saw the movie yesterday nite. Half the movie, typical boring Yash Raj styled movie and then an attempted copy of Eye of the Needle by Ken Follet. Could not bear any more shers after the first 30 -45 minutes. It was too pathetic.

  27. Hey!

    What a brilliant review. I personally found it very hard to appreciate anything in Fanaa. Did rewatch parts of it yesterday, and everything’s there just for the sake of it. Nothing convinced me, I never cared for the characters and its so awfully predictable its not even funny LOL

    Would definitely be keeping tags on your blog… all thanks to Suyog!

    Keep writing,

    Karan!

  28. >> All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    Bashing Narendra Modi is the shortest (and easiest) path to get the certificate of secularism

    @Gaurav,

    Well Said. In Indian blogosphere, this is the equivalent of Godwins laws.

    Bash Hindus, abuse Modi, and voila.. you are secular. And yeah, call for ban on films *perceived to be* offensive to minorities, and oppose the ban on films that are *outrightly* offensive to Hindus (eg Fire).

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  30. a very bold statement of female sexuality that I have not seen often in mainstream Hindi movies (and again I desist from discussing this more fully here because this, to me, was the biggest surprise of the movie and I want to keep it that way for you too).

    Did I miss it? or my theatre didn’t show it?? Can you please enlighten me?

  31. Is it only me or did really this movie had striking resemblance with Dil se, but give me Dil se any time and I will watch it again. Shahrukh Khan, in one of his very few good performances, along with Raju ban Gaya Gentleman and Swades suited the role very well. Love had attraction, worship and passion, which inspite of chemistry between Kajol and Amir, lacked largely in Fanaa.

  32. what the hell ,

    i think the movie did amazing business , i havent seen it yet ,

    but i read all the reviews and they say its very good ,

    even the news tell u its going great ,

    this is the first review and comments , that say its bad and all
    whats up with all u ppl , i think u the kinds who love to find mistakes

  33. I know the whole world has moved on to better topics till now; But I am always months behind the latest trend : )
    I just finished watching the movie and here is the last thought that crossed my mind …

    Did it occur to anyone that they could have made kajol shoot an amazing goli at the helicopter and killed nanaji instead … that would have made a true hindi picture ending.
    Arre … if a criminal profiler can shoot an unbelievable shot, why not a civilian.

  34. GB…great review, as usual. In fact, I’ve now decided not to watch any of these movies at all. I will simply read Taran Adarsh for my daily dose of saccharine praise and then read your review for all the reasons why I shouldn’t watch it.

    Thus fortified, I shall wax eloquent with the wife and any insistent friends on a given movie’s demerits and stay at home, unmolested by the blocks of wood that pass for actors and the carpenters that pass for directors these days.

    Thank you!

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  37. I was more expecting a ‘Bombay Velvet’ review, or say a ‘Joe Jeeta Woh Sikandar’, or ‘My name is Khan’! Fanna – why? Nurturing Loyalties? I hear Aamir makes a reviewer out of every aspiring script writer he rejects. Good luck!

  38. Oops did i miss all the action?
    I was following your 7 year itch from twitter and landed 7 years back here…thought you would account for it. That wasn’t my point though.
    Nope, I don’t want a Bombay velvet review from you. I am impressed how you stand out in the scramble of job seekers in twitter. When others make a beeline to praise BV (Anurag Kashyap), you dig out Fanaa – see, your enemy has been my enemy!
    But seriously, your’s is just your select biased opinions, not reviews….and of course out of 1.2 bn people some jokers will agree with you. Now make me famous with a tweet again:)

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