What the Dickens: A review of Fitoor

 

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When I first heard that Abhishek Kapoor is making a screen adaptation of Dickens’ Great Expectations, I cheered. The guy who could make an awful Chetan Bhagat novel into Kai Po Che can potentially do wonders with this masterpiece of a novel. Alas, this is not an adaptation of Great Expectations. Not in its spirit.

Fitoor is the story of a guy’s obsession with an unattainable girl. A poor Kashmiri artisan boy with a penchant for art is invited into a feudal lady’s manor. He falls for her daughter and spends the rest of the movie pursuing that obsession.

That, in a nutshell, is what the film is about. A love story. There are the same characters as Great Expectations, but they just are insignificant. The strict sister and kindly brother in law, the mysterious lady, the escaped convict, the friend in the city, the mysterious benefactor…. But all of them, except the lady, are just placeholders. The only aspect that matters is the love story, and this film has a sorry excuse for a love story.

The title is the clue. Love has nothing to do with it, it’s about a Fitoor. A compelling obsession. Love comprises of tenderness, understanding, bonding, and a mutual respect. None of that nonsense in this movie. A child in early teens sees a girl and is entranced by her. She keeps rebuking his advances and he keeps making them till she gives in.

This movie starts in 90’s but should have travelled further back in time. This is a perfect 80’s film. The hero is talented and obsessed, and the heroine just for show. To be fair, the hero is not shy about exposing his muscled body, but at no point does the lead pair expose anything deep about themselves.

The movie is set in Kashmir but lacks the guts to tackle the politics beyond some platitudes about longing for peace. I think the only reason to choose Kashmir was to use the beauty of the land. The film is definitely shot beautifully. Kashmir is serene, sometimes desolate, beauty. Delhi party sets are a combination of sophistication and debauchery. And the art exhibits seem to demand a closer look than what the film permits.

Fitoor-4But engaging art installations do not make an engaging movie. The movie has to get us to care for its characters. And I never cared for the lead couple. A combination of ineffective writing and lackluster performance. And can someone please tell me why Katrina is a redhead in this film? Only the Lady played by Tabu engaged from time to time, but Tabu playing a lonely Kashmiri woman draws comparisons with her role in Haider. Compared to what she brought to that role, this is sleepwalking.

Great expectations was a novel about a boy growing up. It was about poverty and riches in Victorian England. It was about prisons and debts. This movie has stripped away all of that. The boy never really grows up; wealth and poverty never matter to him; and he was never that poor anyway. Even when venturing into a topic as juicy as a Kashmiri noble wedding a Pakistani minister, the writers don’t write anything more daring than “Aman Ki Asha” type cliches.

Sorry Mr Kapoor, but Great Expectations? More like dashed expectations.

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Deadpool: Dead Awesome 

  
 First thing first: Deadpool is awesome. It’s the most fun you’ll have in a movie theatre this year. Unless you use the dark theatre for things other than watching a movie. 
The second thing: just like the “joke” above, this is not for kids. This is a comic book movie unlike any other. 
Before Batman Begins, comic heroes were a joke. And a silly joke at that. They did their antics, and the villains did their thing, with no thought give to anything except special effects. There were cardboard characters, with no inner life, and no story arc beyond one film. Batman trilogy introduced a great new twist with dark, brooding films, and Marvel has been wavering between grit and joy ever since by focusing on its myriad heroes. X-men stood slightly apart, focusing on the political and social. Till now. Till Deadpool. 
Deadpool is the story of a broken man. It starts with an ex-marine who describes himself as a bad guy hunting worse guys. Then he meets the girl, falls in love, and is hit by cancer. He is willing to do anything, ANYTHING, to avoid separating, and undergoes horrible torture for the promise of superpower to cure the cancer. 
As he becomes a man who can heal itself almost instantaneously, he discovers the side effects of near immortality. He is hideous. Pretty hideous. Like a tumor with eyes and a mouth. He knows she loves him and his damaged soul, but isn’t sure she will love him with his damaged looks. The irony. 
Wait, this sounds like a really boring movie. Deadpool is anything but boring. 
  Modern Batman and Superman are quiet creatures. Men of few words and much action, always struggling with the morality of their actions. Deadpool isn’t that. He is a motormouth. He is always talking. Either to himself, to the villains, and all too often with the audience. He knows he’s in a movie. He breaks the fourth wall constantly, and with superb wit. And he is a man of action as well. Morals? Eh. He doesn’t lose roomy h sleep over them. If you’re in his way, you are going to get hurt. 
Wit, heart and gore. That’s the punchline this movie deserves. It is hilarious, poignant, violent, brutal, touching; sometimes all within moments. It never slows down, he never shuts up, and we never get bored. Not even during the credits. 
This will change superhero movies again. Watching Batman v/s Superman feels like work against this. Deadpool is gritty, rough, has well written characters, and is not boring. It is also very explicit. If you can’t stand a cartoon Deadpool touching a unicorn pretty inappropriately, don’t watch this movie. 
If you have to watch a movie this Valentine’s Day, watch Deadpool. You may have more fun watching the screen than…. well, you know, doing extracurricular work in the theatre. 

Bernie Sanders Hit Job

Senate Democrats Hold Briefing On GOP Attack On Social Security

Bernie Sanders is the latest darling of the left. If you try and match his support, there is a near one to one correlation with those who support AAP in India.

Thats not a coincidence. These are people dissatisfied with the mainstream left, represented by the Congress here and Democrats like Hillary in US. Congress and Hillary talk of the leftist principles, but are in the pocket of the rich. They have totally abandoned the principles of socialism by now. They essentially have no principles. Republicans are the same from the other side. They claim to be for Capitalism, but are in the pockets of their cronies and thrive on religious and nationalist sentiments. Much like BJP, really, but they don’t have a charismatic and largely honest leader at the top.

Thats why the Republican presidential field is littered with petty, small people. How bad do you have to be to be behind Donald effing Trump?

But we digress. Sanders. He has been a congressman (member of parliament) for several years, and as such hasn’t run anything. He has been activist for the Left, that’s it. But he did run something once. The city of Burlington. As a candidate against both Democrats and Republicans. A third alternative, so to speak. Do you know what his platform was? Lower cost Electricity and Telecom. He claimed that the utilities companies were robbing the consumer. Starts sounding familiar to our dear Kejriwal, right?

bernie20There’s more. Politics is a serious job. Like all jobs, you show your seriousness by dressing formally. Not him. he had dishevelled hair, a crumpled shirt and loose, badly fitting coats. He talked all the time about the rich guys talking things away from the common man. He always, at all times, stood against what America was for. He has had wet dreams about a revolution since 1970’s and proclaimed that him being elected mayor of Burlington was the start of a socialist turn for the US. his quote: “I think from one end of this country to the other, people are ripe for political revolution. The whole quality of life in America is based on greed. I believe in the redistribution of wealth in this nation.”

He attended rallies outside US, happy to collaborate with and give support to dictators as long as they were socialists. And anti-American. (At one of them in Nicaragua, he attended a rally celebrating the “defeat” of USA. They were chanting: “here there everywhere, the Yankees will die.”)

This is not all of course. He is a socialist, remember? Sanders has supported stealing the assets of corporations. He has supported nationalising all television. He has even supported taking the assets of a company and called for a state takeover of utilities “without compensation to the banks and wealthy individuals who own them.” He has supported state takeover of all oil business.

He made it a personal mission to attack the Rockefeller family. At that time the richest Americans. He advocated seizing their wealth and distributing it to the poor. He suggested that appointing Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President would lead to a dictatorship of the country by that family. Nothing if that sort happened, of course. Rockefellers declined in relative wealth, as other innovators overtook them. As happens in capitalism.

People say he is not really a socialist. He just uses that label. Look at the man and his positions when he was not prominent. That’s the real Sanders. Very similar to our own Kejriwal. You can just replace Ambani for Rockefeller and copy paste the speeches. Hating the rich and making them out to be demons is the central tenet of socialism.

The similarities are not a coincidence. This is the Left. They are all about seizing, capturing, taking something that doesn’t belong to them, and then doing charity with it.

America is not a perfect society. Far from it. But what makes it great is the individual liberty, the freedom to pursue greatness and riches, the celebration of innovation.  In short, the Capitalism. Read again. These are the same attributes that we admire in Indians. We are not a society of conformist society when we are at our best. That’s the worst part of India. That leads to castes, dominating women, creating barriers. At our best, we are an open, innovative nation. Innovation only thrives when there are incentives to innovate. That’s what capitalism is.

Electing a socialist to the top of the largest economy in the world, and one of the best nations in the world will be a disaster for the whole world. I hope Americans are not stupid enough to do that.