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.
But 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.