Fanaa (2006): Paying tribute to Mother India (1957)

Director Kunal Kohli opens Fanaa with this shot of Zooni Ali Baig (Kajol), immediately establishing the purposefulness of a blind woman in Kashmir singing Saare Jahaan Se Achcha, saluting the Indian flag, and doing so around children. Each of these subtexts is essential to the plot of an obvious but humble tribute to the Mehboob Khan classic, Mother India (1957). Here is a different kind of contemporary commercial movie which packages an interesting blend of formalism and substance with strong emotions and some core masala ingredients. The result is strong reliance on its superstar cast, which is not at all a bad idea when your lead pair comprises the best actors in popular cinema today.

Before we move on, congratulations India on Independence Day (August 15th)! To my friends in Pakistan, a tip of the hat and many wishes for a peaceful year ahead. Here's the song of the moment, Des Rangeela (Vibrant Country), with vocals by Mahalaxmi Iyer. (More on the music below.)

If you haven’t yet seen Fanaa (and you must tell me why! :), here’s the story in a nutshell. The blind Zooni (Kajol) visits Delhi on a school-sponsored trip, during which she meets Rehan Qadri (Aamir Khan), a tour guide with a passion for poetry. Too innocent to suspect him, she returns his calls for romantic involvement. He is a womanizer, but soon learns no woman has impacted him as much. He also harbors a greater secret which determines the fate of every character presented, including Zooni's parents Zulfiqar (Rishi Kapoor) and Nafisa (Kirron Kher), and her son (Ali Haji).

There is no doubting Fanaa would have been very different (for the worse) without Aamir and Kajol, and any discussion on the film must begin and end with them. (Here's an advertising display I had to convince a store owner to let me purchase; click to enlarge)

Perhaps the biggest compliment that can be given to this pair is that Kajol is second only to Juhi Chawla when it comes to blazing screen presence alongside Aamir. For her comeback film, Kajol looks better than she’s ever looked. Fanaa belongs to her, in what many consider a career-best performance. There’s not a moment when she looks out of place. It was bound to be this way, opposite a superstar secure enough to equally share and even yield screen space.

Zooni is also the catalyst for the film's tribute to Mother India. She is taught that deciding between multiple options that appear good is the bigger challenge in life. She is loyal to herself and to her country. She has a purpose in life and understands it well, and she goes to great lengths for justice, even if it means risking the lives of those she loves. In what is essentially a chronicle of her transformation, we see her go from indecisive and uncertain (as she was at the beginning) to steadfast in resolve.

Like Mother India, Fanaa uses a child to convey attachment to the present, maturity in being, and purpose and hope for the future -- that it starts off at a school is hardly a coincidence.

As was the case in Mother India, the lead male actors are either cowardly or foolish, either of which is enough to dismiss the notion that the films are anti-feminist (they are clearly not). In fact, there's every reason to be believe in the very inverse! The women leads drive both films, and interestingly, there's implicit commentary to be received from the two films side-by-side on the evolution of the Indian woman (not that I claim to understand the Indian woman, or any woman :]) through the decades, with the benchmarking metric their response to being torn between moral obligation and romantic sentiment.

Aamir often appears indecisive and confused, and that is the biggest strength of his fantastic performance. Rehan isn’t the best-developed character in Fanaa, and doesn’t need to be. He is caught between the worlds of love and hatred, and it shows. The inner struggle he undergoes is extremely well portrayed, with fine representation of his knowing well that he is too far down one path to deviate without causing irreparable damage to the lives of those around him, but being in denial at the same time. He says he tries, but does anyone trust him? Does he trust himself? Is he worthy of being trusted? It’s the quiet intensity that Aamir is routinely associated with that works to his advantage here. Zooni's loveliness alone is justification for his anguish.

My favorite scene is the one in which Rehan asks Zooni how one can love another so much. Followed by this dialogue, it's showcased in the first half of the film and carries much more meaning from that point onward:

Among the several other enjoyable segments in Fanaa is the initial courtship segment. Yes, it’s for fans of Urdu poetry, and it’s beautifully done. Those couplets are easy to improvise for those who are intimate with the art, nothing overdone about it. (A special mention of the dialogue throughout, which is one of the most effective elements of the screenplay; one would think this is stating the obvious, but it isn't apparently -- those who don't speak the language, please watch it with subtitles!) Besides being prominent to highlight the traits of a flirt with a way with words, the poetry is used to demonstrate a spiritual connection between Zooni and Rehan. She cannot see, and must rely on what she can gather from his wit and the words he uses to woo her. She obviously finds them stimulating. Aamir’s look in the first half of Fanaa is probably the worst he's worn through his career, but it only cements what Zooni does and does not seek and then finds or finds amiss in him.

Then there is the segment showcasing reigniting passion between Rehan and Zooni, during Rehan's stay at the Baigs'. On several occasions, the camera focuses generously on their faces, and no dialogue would be needed to portray the strength of their emotions. There’s also an antakshari sequence (in which Guru Dutt and Shammi Kapoor hits are prevalent) weaved in that’s beautiful. A scene at the dargaah much earlier is beautifully shot and written.

Of course, given the masala trappings, it’s far from a perfect film. Issues in the first half are inherent in a film with as much fluff. Segments in the second half, especially those involving Rishi Kapoor, are the closest we get to badly executed scenes. Tabu in an extended guest appearance isn’t quite how I like her. Every time I see Fanaa, I feel a little more annoyed at how underutilized she is, but that’s probably the Tabu fan in me saying that. Sharat Saxena, who was also seen in Ghulam (1998), is once again pitted against Aamir. He holds contempt against Tabu too, and no one in that capacity wins any points from me :) And what was I saying above about men being the weaker ones in both Fanaa and Mother India? Here's Saxena delivering a cheap shot:

Of course, we trust Tabu to say it how it is. (Aside: Memo to Aamir and Tabu: Please, please, please star opposite each other some day, I'd fly to India for a premiere to that!)

I like that the Kashmir issue wasn't trivialized; if it were simple, it would have been a lot closer than it is to being resolved 62 years and three major wars later. I also like that terrorism is portrayed as a common enemy of both the South Asian nuclear powers (very relevant to the scope of the film), which it obviously is.

The minor and subtle but inherent political commentary in Fanaa works largely because it avoids propagandization, a pitfall most films dealing with the subject of terrorism and Kashmir, even at the high-level, seem to fall into. The only exception to this might be (and this is just my thought process, excuse me if you disagree) that the appearance of this lead terrorist (right) resembles that of former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf (left), in office in 2006. Tsk-tsk.

The big question in any masala-like movie is whether its songs enhance the narrative. That is not a major concern here, because the songs are mostly good to begin with. Chaand Sifaarish (Shaan) is the pick of the lot, and is still extremely popular at Indian weddings, and for good reason. If you are as addicted to the tune as I am, you must check out the following instrumental versions it has inspired: by a string quartet; on piano; on electric guitar.

Dekho Na
(Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan) sounds and looks great, but its fit and need are questionable but forgivable. Mere Haath Mein (Sonu and Sunidhi again) is my favorite from the soundtrack, and is amazingly well choreographed and picturized. The visual appeal of two very good-looking people in a very good-looking setting singing some incredible words is undeniable. See for yourself (and if you wish to sing along some other time, here's a karaoke version):

Speaking of good-looking settings, the ravishing cinematography and mystical background score throughout the film are a definite complement. Kashmir, err...Poland, looks breathtaking. Here’s a news report with exclusive footage from the sets of Mere Haath Mein:

Which brings me to the song I dislike most, and what I consider to be the weakest point in the film. Chanda Chamke had all the potential in the world from the standpoint of its positioning, but Jatin-Lalit recycle a tune (to Yaara Yaara) from their soundtrack to Hum Tum (2004), which is annoying for those of us who dislike that Kunal Kohli-directed film. Quite a waste, but that might be me, because I didn't mind use of the tune in Chaand Sifaarish.

These weaknesses notwithstanding, if part of you enjoys masala films based around love stories, I would definitely recommend you see Fanaa. It is one of the more interesting blends of love of person and of country, and is engaging because of the very convincing performances. Most films that begin the way Fanaa does involve rites of passage, whether they be associated with independence, patriotism, philosophies, or simply, through parenthood. What makes Fanaa work is that each of these rites of passage are applicable to and guided by both the principal characters, who are impacted more by their love for each other than they are by who and where they are. For a film that talks of being destroyed in love, this is only fitting, as are the tributes to Mother India.

Movie rating: 4.25/5 (Excellent!)
It doesn't hold up too well to another Aamir film from the last eight years, but is still well, well worth watching. It is very likely my most favorite fluff-filled movie of the decade! Before I bore you more of why I think the Kajol-Aamir pairing is better than any other pairing Kajol's been part of (ssshhhhh, I never said that ;), be sure to check out Nida's Fanaa post. :) Too bad 3 Idiots won't feature them both (Kajol was initially said to be playing a lead role, but will now be making a guest appearance nonetheless). Oh, well.

Music rating: 3.75/5 (Very good)
Jatin-Lalits's last outing wasn't bad at all after all, with at least three excellent tracks that have aged well. Lyrics by Prasoon Joshi are excellent as always.

My Classification: PG-13

Official website: This Yash Raj Films (YRF) link

DVD set details: The YRF two-disc set contains the film in anamorphic wide-screen format, and a supplemental disc with extras including deleted scenes (they were best left out), a neat little section called 'From Paper to Celluloid' featuring Aamir and Kajol (watch it at this YouTube link), awwww... alternate version of Mere Haath Mein, i.e. with different choreography and locations; again, what they stuck with is better. I wonder if this bit was shot during the day and then reworked:

This Aamir and Kajol one-on-one is also included on disc 2, and is a must-watch for any fan of either.

And finally...
Those who followed Fanaa pre-release know this. Aamir's comments on a political situation resulted in a regional ban (and significant financial loss) of Fanaa in the state of Gujarat. This article and this one have some really cool background reading, in which he addresses the incompetence of the Indian government, the India-Pakistan arts scene, and much more. You can read more about the controversy under the corresponding section at the Fanaa Wikipedia entry. Someone who isn't afraid of compromising popularity to say what is just adds much integrity to the profession.


Shellie said...

I was so pleased to see your review. I saw Fanaa some time ago and remember really enjoying it, despite the obvious masala content (ie miracle eye surgery). I LOVE the music and can't get enough of Chaand Sifaarish, and totally agree with you on Chande Chamke - fluffy filler I think.

Kajol and Aamir were wonderful together, though I thought they seemed a little distant in the "Fanaa for You" featurette (though I only saw Part 1 on Youtube, which I watched, ironically, the other day and almost posted as part of my birthday tribute to Kajol). At any rate, it is too bad that she will be part of 3 Idiots in such a small capacity - they do make a great jodi and one I would definitely like to see again - even though you know I am a Kajol/SRK fan!

Overall, I thought this movie was fantastic - even the ending. I need to go rewatch it now.

Filmi Girl said...

What a great post!! You've made me want to go home and immediately re-watch Fanaa!

One of the things that really struck me about Kajol's performance in the first half is how well she plays blind! She obviously did her homework and it shows.

(And my most annoying masala moment in the film goes to Lara Dutta's dumb cameo in the first half... ;P)

Anonymous said...

Great post, man! I don't know why so many people shun this movie. Kajol and Aamir at their best! They are only my second favourite jodi, coming right after SRK and Kajol. :p Definitely one of my favourite movies, though.

I rather liked Chanda Chamke, but I haven't seen Hum Tum, so maybe I'm missing something. It's my least-favourite song on the cd, though, but that doesn't mean it's bad. :) It was actually a very impressive soundtrack all around-- I really like the 'Destroyed in Love' instrumental.

Regarding Tabu-- I am as much of a major fan as I can be, having watched not too many Tabu movies, but she really doesn't have to have a prominent role all the time. Tyagi was a great role, little screen time or no (she actually seemed the only one against Aamir & Co with brains at times!). It wouldn't be right if she just went in, made the role bigger, and stole the film, because it's not about her character. But if they had opted for somebody with less talent to play her role, the character might not have seemed as prominent as she was. Tabu said on Koffee With Karan when asked about her lack of screen time that she just liked the role and the movie (or something along those lines-- not a direct quote!).

theBollywoodFan said...

Shell: Thank you, and it seems you enjoyed the masala content as much as I did! Aamir and Kajol are interesting, their issues in their other film Ishq (in which Aamir was paired with Juhi Chawla!!!) is well known, and I like they kick this interview off acknowledging that.

It'll take more than one excellent film to surpass the SRK and Kajol pairing. They're great together too, of course! That we mention Aamir-Kajol in the same sentence as SRK-Kajol after just Fanaa says something, though ;)

Filmi Girl! Kajol was brilliant, from the very first scene to the last. I really like all she's said about her performance in that little interview (if we can call it that) with Aamir. Didn't mind Lara Dutta (maybe because the scene she was in also involved food ;), but can see how it could be annoying, just as that Shiney Ahuja cameo, which I also liked -- my kind of action, soccer on ice! :)

Alex: Thank you! It'd help if people saw the film, and with subtitles, before deciding on it! Have you seen anything with Aamir and Juhi Chawla? That's interesting about Chanda Chamke and not having seen Hum Tum. I wonder what those who liked Hum Tum think about the song.

You're right about Tabu and the nature and extent of her role. The time Tyagi got on screen was perfect for the film, it's just that it's Tabu! Of course, I'm biased ;) That Tabu episode of Koffee with Karan sounds interesting, I'll have to search for it, thanks for the info.

theBollywoodFan said...

All: Please think good thoughts and send your wishes to Aamir and his wife Kiran. This must be really difficult. :'(

bollyviewer said...

Awww... I loved Chanda chamke. It was so cute and reminded me of childhood tongue twisters (Chandu ke chacha ne... was a prime favorite). The only other song I liked from that soundtrack was Chand sifarish - which I can listen to over and over again. I saw the film on the big screen and was itching to have a ff button to get past the rest of the songs!

My favorite part in the film was Rehan's stay with the Baigs - so beautifully romantic. But then the film went steadily downhill, and the last 20-30 min totally ruined the rest of it, for me! Perhaps it was the Mother India take (I HATE that film) that you noticed. The last half hour should definitely have been better written (not necessarily a different end) with a lot less melodrama, I felt.

Shellie said...

My thoughts go out to Aamir and Kiran. I have lost a baby also, so I know what they are going through. It is a very difficult time. Thanks for the link - I dont' check his blog very often.

Anonymous said...

You're probably going to kill me, but-- the only movie I've seen with Aamir and Juhi was Ishq, and I didn't like it that much. *hides* And I should probably start digging my own grave for this, but I'm not a huge fan of Juhi's. And don't translate that sentence to mean 'I hate her' or even 'I dislike her'-- I just don't like her enough to call myself a fan. I like her performances lately better than those when she was at the peak of her career, though, oddly enough. *shrugs*

And do check out that KWK Tabu episode! It talks mostly about The Namesake (which I thought was fantastic), but there's quite a bit of other things, too. :)

ajnabi said...

Oh dear. I love this movie. Why why why don't I own it? I'm gonna have to bump it up to the top of my queue again now, thanks for that! ;-)

Boy, Tabu and Aamir opposite each other! What a jodi that would be.

theBollywoodFan said...

Bollyviewer: I do wonder what my reaction would've been had I not listened to this song from Hum Tum first. But then, I know we disagree on Hum Tum the film too, LOL, so perhaps it's immaterial of the tune. Likely a bit of both, in my case. The tongue twisters are fun, absolutely, and I probably shouldn't be surprised at how different our opinions are of the FF-worthy songs!

Rehan's stay with the Baigs was really cool, and we do agree on that (that antakshari sequence!), and I agree on the last 20 minutes, especially that bit with Rishi, which was quite overdone. And I had to put that Mother India bit in there, since you were going to read it ;P I'm only kidding, of course. When I first saw Fanaa, I hadn't seen Mother India, so it was interesting to relate the two, although the post is hardly analytical.

Alex: No, no, I'm not Rehan, so I would *never* hurt anyone! :o) To appreciate Juhi (and Juhi and Aamir), you *must* see Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1989) and Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke (1993). If those don't make you a fan, none will!

Ajnabi: So you've seen this! Cool! Hope you enjoy it again. Tabu and Aamir would certainly rock any movie out there.

theBollywoodFan said...

Shell, that must've been a tremendous but humbling test of patience and strength. :( So many things we don't control...

Anonymous said...

TBF - I second your view - Aamir and Tabu - pls do act in a movie together (preferably with prominent roles as hero and herione - otherwise Tabu gets seconded to a short role).

I liked Tabu's acting in Fanaa even though it was a short role.

Hope Kiran gets pregnant again soon.

Anon from Down Under!

JJC said...

you are right, fanaa really wouldnt have been what it is w/o Kajol and Aamir. Its fun to watch but i dont love it. The biggest reason was that whole shayari thing ,it was a total turnoff for me.I had to wait a long time for rewatching it. And Tabu, while shes always amazing..was pretty wasted in the role she did. sorry not trying to bash it but i cant love everything.

theBollywoodFan said...

Anon from Down Under! Thanks for the second :) I'm thinking a remake of Devdas with Tabu as Chandramukkhi! Wouldn't that be something? Hope your travel plans weren't affected by the swine flu situation in Bombay.

JJC: Ah, but all those lovely couplets! Yes, we cannot love everything, indeed. But it's TABU!!! 8)

theBollywoodFan said...

PS: JJC, speaking of not liking everything, thought you'd find this snippet interesting. From a relevant post at Aamir's blog (from July 2007). As you can see, there's a segment of Aamir fans that didn't like it. (If you've registered at the AK blog, you can read the complete post at this link.)

"I can see that some of you did not like FANAA, and I can understand why. Happily more of you loved it. Which is why it is among my biggest hits. I want you''ll to understand that when I am attempting to entertain such a LARGE and VARIED audience it will not always be possible for me to entertain EVERYONE at the same time. People have different tastes, different emotional keys, different perspectives. And there will be times when a certain section of my audience likes one of my films better and another section some other film. I personally think that this is very healthy. I dont want to do only one particular sensibility or taste of film. I want to give myself the freedom to do all kinds of cinema. I dont want to do just those kinds of films which make a social comment, or are very logical. Sometimes I too feel like doing something mushy, mad, crude, sentimental."

dunkdaft said...

Surprise - actually I liked that weird 'first half' look of Aamir. :) Those scarfs and loud colorful dressups. And also loved the 'shairana' conversations between him and Kajol. And also *loved* the Autorickshaw scene : 'lag jaa gale ke phir yeh haseen raat ho naa ho' Haunting beautiful.

Absolutely agree on Kajol. She looks ravishing from first to last frame. So is with overall cinematography. Delhi looks extra zuperb. Still somewhere, this movie falls flat a little bit for me, especially when it gets dragged in second half, things get repetative. But again, given mushy moments [antakshari youve mentioned] and Aamir and lovely songs, I m up for rewatch anytime !!

I wasn't lucky enough to catch this in theatre. [I was desparate after RDB]. And to be true-My faith in Aamir was disturbed after his comments. Cause he had made great influence after RDB, and when he told something about 'Gujarat' even 'me' got lost over him, given situation around me at that time. So unlucky I was that I couldn't even catch RDB again in halls cause it was banned too. :( I kept losing my temper whenever people made remarks about AK, that he is 'deshdrohi' etc. Oh Please....get a life ppl. But soon I realized whats right and whats right and whats wrong, and things got normal again [in my mind]. Later got VCD and 'enjoyed' each moment. Without any grievances. [see, media 'harms']

But again, on a personal note, I feel that Aamir should stay away from all this. And do what he is best at. We love him for that !!

dunkdaft said...

oh, and **Love** the header.

bollyviewer said...

I dont remember that song in Hum Tum. Was it cut out of the film, and only there in the soundtrack?

I liked the songs in Fanaa, but I ALWAYS fast forward songs in new films, unless there is some action onscreen that will be relevant to the plot. That wasnt true about any of the songs, as far as I remember. So, I was willing to sit still for Chand sifarish and Chanda chamke cham - for the rest, I wished the film would get to THE END with minimum diversions so I could go have dinner!

And thats an interesting quote of Aamir's. I wish one of these days his desire to do "something mushy, mad, crude, sentimental" led him to do ONE good romance (not Ghajini-style where some romance will be followed by a ton of violence).

Anonymous said...

TBF, yes my family has been sending me worried emails about swine flu spreding in Bombay and Pune. However I am flying direct to Hyd from Singapore. So hoping that it should be okay. Funny, I was also caught during the SARS epidemic in 2003 and that too had to fly via Singapore where SARS had affected people. I guess sticking to the airport during transit will see me through.

thanks for ur concern.

Anon from DU

theBollywoodFan said...

Darshit: Those shairana conversations were great, and yes, that fantastic old song playing in the background was perfect. Rewatches are great, I would never mind watching these two :)

That must've been interesting for you in Gujarat. *Someone* has to stand up for the truth, and since the vast majority of the politicians (all who matter, at least) and media have shown that they tend to use the truth only when it's convenient and advantageous for *them*, as opposed to when it's a message that will be spread to the community at large, I'm all for Aamir saying what he said.

It's never an issue to have a positive impact on society through superstardom, and I admire that trait in him. What's amazing is that despite all he's said, he's managed to stay just as popular; people have tried to drag his name down (as you say, the 'desh drohi' i.e. 'traitor' cheap shot leveled at him by those of the two major parties, esp. one), but some how he's been on top. Kudos!

Thanks for the comment on the header :) There's so much going on for Independence Day! Have fun!

theBollywoodFan said...

Bollyviewer: I don't remember the song placements in 'Hum Tum' much, I fast-forwarded through them for the exact same reason you fast-forwarded through the songs to Fanaa! :)

'Des Rangeela' was the one song in Fanaa that was better integrated than the rest. You're right about most new Hindi films having poorly integrated songs that serve as filler. In fairness, a *lot* of the old films (even the black and white ones) suffer from the same issue too (but the lyrics and music were obviously better and made it all a heck of a lot more tolerable).

I'm surprised you sat through all of Fanaa, since you were waiting for the end credits. Too bad this didn't qualify as "ONE good romance" in your books. Most he's aiming his movies at are liking them, and for anything as commercial as Fanaa, that matters most.

I like that he's obviously moved on from ALL the romance stuff he did in the 1990s (and he did a LOT of that back then, several good ones too). Thank God for evolution!

theBollywoodFan said...

Anon from DU: Be safe, and happy travels!

Bhargav Saikia said...

I found Fanaa very entertaining the first time I watched it...but when I re-watched it, the film felt a lil' shoddy. I guess it worked only because of Aamir-Kajol. Kunal Kohli is so overrated..I remember Sanjay Leela Bhansali saying that in Kofee With Karan..couldn't agree more with him.

P.S. Lovely blog header :-) Happy Independence Day!

theBollywoodFan said...

Thanks, Bhargav. And Happy Independence Day to you too! We do agree on Kunal Kohli, although it's interesting that SLB would say that. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Independence Day TBF and to all your readers.

It is 15 Aug already for us - Anon from DU

bollyviewer said...

tBF, I ff-ed the songs to Hum Tum, too (as I wasnt able to with Fanaa since I watched it in the theatre) - its just that after so many watches I do remember the placement of most songs. Agreed about old films having a lot of filler songs too, which I also ff when watching a DVD (with someone who'd let me!). In Fanaa, and indeed in a lot of films (old and new), songs often break the momentum of the narrative which makes me very fidgety, and wanting to know what happens next. And Fanaa was building up very well (until the last 20-30 min just kind of killed it for me) - I wanted to know what happens next and how it ended, and wanted to know it THEN, not after several songs!

And hey, dont trash Aamir's 90s romances - they were awesome (I LOVED them all - dont even remember how many times I've seen Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin). I just wish he'd do something like that again - with a mature character (which I know he can carry off), of course.

Katie said...

Fanaa was the perfect "chick-flick". I suspected Rehan was up to no good when his cell phone rang the very first time. Why do we "good girls" keep getting drawn to these "bad boys"? It is A Mystical Force in the Universe that I quite haven't figured out yet. Aamir and Kajol have great on screen chemistry. I hope they make more films together.

Great review as usual BWF

Katherine G
Atlanta, GA

theBollywoodFan said...

Bollyviewer: Assuming what 3 Idiots is said to contain is true, it might just partly fulfill your wish of a mature relationship story! Aamir's romances from the 1990s weren't bad at all, but they got a little redundant at the outset. I think 1992 onward is when he decided to step out of the conventional films, and I really like the ones he's worked in since a whole lot more. Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin is great, though!

Katie! 'Mystical forces of the universe' is a good way to put it. You bring up an interesting question (and it might work the other way around too), the answer to which has to be one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of humankind, at least for those who don't believe 'love is blind' (pun intended). :)

Joss said...

I should really re-watch this film before making any comments, but one thing I do remember is that the miraculous eye surgery and the unlikelihood of Aamir turning up on Kajol's doorstep in the snow really turned me off the first time I saw the movie. And yet, when it came to the final scene in the snow I was totally won over. And full of admiration for Kajol's character. Although she and Mother India both were a lot more decisive than I would have been in the circumstances, their actions were still believable. The previous three hours of film-making had done that. Now that I've seen more masala movies I these co-incidences don't bother me so much. But neither, however, do gear-changes like seeing Aamir's character turn into a terrorist have the impact they used to. I have seen enough dual role films to be simply delighted by this. But when I first watched Fanaa I was really shocked. Which was how it was meant to be!

I can remember the Des Rangila song, and for this reason if no other I am going to watch it all again. Oh and to see Tabu, as well. This was the first time I came across her and although it was a small role she definitely made an impression on me. I really should follow up more of her movies. Apart from the wonderful Namesake, which would you say is her best one?

Aamir's early romances? I still have seen nothing more romantic than the shelf scene in Quayamat Se Quayamat Tak. Yes, I'd love him to do something like this again. Meantime I'll have to look up Dil Hai Ki Maantan Nahi.

Did you understand my email? I am cringing with embarrassement at having attempted to write in Hindi. :)

Unknown said...

Very informative review, Bollywodfan!

Thanks for all that info on the music. Fanaa features among my favourite Hindi film soundtracks (I do agree with you on the Chande Chamke track).

I think the film had enormous potential and that it was fabulously casted. I do think that it needed some tighter editing or scripting though to make it outright mindblowing. IMO Kajol and Aamir are amazing in making what would have been a medium film a definite must-watch. Sadly, I sometimes find myself fastforwarding through the first Kashmir sequences (please don't hit, me I like Tabu too).

On another note, you really do not claim to understand women?? Why? We are so simple! :-D

Anonymous said...

TBF, what do you think of the SRK incident last week?

Anonymous said...

Aamir Khan fell one day on my head.!!!



You would call it chance, for me it's destiny.
Yes! Let me explain! One of my friends gave me the dvd of Fanaa, a little over two years ago. That day, my daughter came to visit me and saw the DVD I had not watched yet, she took it with her when she returned to Paris. A few weeks later she calls me, exclaiming: "Oh Mom! This film is beautiful!" "What film?" I ask "Fanaa! You must absolutely watch this film!
" she says.

A week later, I had the dvd in my hand but my sister, who was there saw it and, of course, borrowed it. I could not get the DVD the following month because, in fact, my sister was on a trip to Seville (Spain) and had taken it with her. Gosh! Well,never mind! When I was finally able to get my dvd, I placed it above the high shelf, out of sight, looking forward to finally being able to watch it. But one thing to another, I end up forgetting it on the shelf. One day I was doing a bit housekeeping and pushing the shelf, the DVD which was always there fell on my head. Ouch! What is it? Ô! Who is he? Aamir pic was on the cover and looked so charming! So, I let what I was doing and watched for the first time « Fanaa ». I was conquired by this movie and you’ve guessed by « Rehan ».
Then I began to research other films Aamir. It was also the first time in my life that I had a great interest in an actor. I've never been fan of anyone until then. Strange! One day I did the same search on the net to glean some information about him. There was not much about this fine actor. Curious! I wanted to know a bit more about him but in terms "médiathiques" he did not seem to make the headlines. By clicking a day on a link, I discovered his site with a photo and a letter from him. The site was closed but we could send him an email. It was therefore possible to contact him!!!
A little skeptical, but still leaving the door open to hope, I decided to write a little word to testify my admiration towards him and my best doha. Before clicking on « send your message », I closed eyes and did a wish as a « naufragé » who would have thrown his bottle into the sea.
By a sunshine morning, opening my email box I discovered the « mail ». This famous mail that you all received. Like you, I was nicely surprised but although always a bit sceptikal. It’s so incredible to see a star allowing attention to the commun mortals. Gosh! When I enter into the blog, I was a bit amused, always with this little doubt but with a soft warm in my heart that I didn’t explain.
Step by step, I got interest and addiction of blog and you know the following. Now you know me as a regular. I even did the trip to India to pay him tribute and it was GeniaL!!!.
HouRRa for FANAA!!!



PS/ And You...? Did Aamir fall on your head??! :-p (^_^)...

Kristine said...

Hi there!

As always your review on Fanaa is interesting to read. Although I have to admit that I am one of those who don't like the movie (which does not keep me from revisiting it from time to time).

My sentiments are as follows:

For me Fanaa is neither fish nor fowl. For a (me) captivating lovestory everything happens to fast (only 6 days from leaving your parents to meeting the guy and having sex – love at first sight is nice but not like this especially when you have never left home before like Zooni did). But most of all because I felt no chemistry, no emotions between Rehan and Zooni. Mainly because her being blind means for the director and the actor that she has not only to look over Rehans shoulder but to turn her whole body away from him, presenting her shoulder to him... And I find Kajol as a blind girl not authentic. Both parts (Rehan and Zooni) are poorly developed with no chance to come to live intensely.

Is Fanaa a thrilling movie about terrorism? No. Too harmless and scriptwise poor executed. Not that I expected flamingly speeches against terrorism or the smoke of a bin Laden-like terror cell. I didn't expect anything that trivial after this patriotic beginning.

Writing down everything that disturbs would go beyond the scope of this post... :-)

And I would like to close with a question: What about the cockroach in the office getting a better frame than Tabu?!?

What I like about Fanaa? The beautiful images from Delhi, the songs (not Chanda chamke and not always the picturisation), Aamirs look, Kajols clothes.

The YRF-DVD also contains the directors commentary. Very interesting...

Take care

theBollywoodFan said...

Joss: Each of your observations is interesting, and I'd be curious to know how this goes for you with your next viewing. I hadn't seen Mother India

when I first saw Fanaa, and it was very different going in with that perspective. And as you know, we'd so restrict our masala consumption if we let medical miracles and miraculous reunions bother us. =)

For Tabu's works, I'd start with 'Chandni Bar', 'Astitva', 'Virasat', and 'Maqbool'. She was great in 'Cheeni Kum' as well, opposite Amitabh Bachchan. (Content warning: None of these are good to see with a kid around.)

From Aamir's early must see Dil (1990) and Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin (1991). I've talked about comparing Aamir-Kajol and Aamir-Juhi, but the truth is Madhuri Dixit and Pooja Bhatt in these two films (respectively) are excellent as well.

I did understand your e-mail! (At least I think I did :P) I'll be writing to you soon. There's always so much to absorb for someone starting out, it'll only get easier once you're through this stage. And you know this already, but you're getting there!

Aline: Agreed on all counts, except perhaps you mean the sequence with Aamir jumping out the chopper and eventually onto a snowmobile? That's one of my favorite scenes!

On another note, you really do not claim to understand women?? Why? We are so simple! :-D

I'm not so sure I know. Not sure anyone does. I am, however, content with acknowledging that the lack of understanding is a big part of the appeal ;)

theBollywoodFan said...

Anonymous: I was hoping to go through one Aamir film review without SRK being brought up :P Kidding, of course. Sita-ji's got a discussion going at her blog, check out the comments there.

theBollywoodFan said...

Jamila! No, no, Aamir never fell on my head, but I see he knocked you out! ;) It was Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992) that made me a 'big' Aamir fan (QSQT (1988) and Dil (1990 -- with boxing gloves!) prior to it. I guess I was too little to appreciate Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin (1991) back then. What an amazing account you have of your discovery of the actor. Thanks so much for sharing! I'm sure you must thank you friend who introduced you to Fanaa. And yes, it's great when Aamir writes to his fans ;)

Hi Kristine: How are you? Agreed on Zooni's development from that initial standpoint, it could've been a lot better at showing how and when they realized things went from lust to love (my theory is that it happened during the scene at the mosque). But it's really not that serious a movie, as you say (and certainly more a film about a love affair than terrorism, absolutely), so I can overlook that :) I'm with you on the script having much more room for improvement, though. I wonder if what drew Aamir and Kajol to it was the chance to work opposite one another.

And I would like to close with a question: What about the cockroach in the office getting a better frame than Tabu?!?

Good question! Perhaps Tabu is thinking about how the cycle of pest v. pesticide (or cops and robbers, intelligence agencies and terrorists, IT security companies and hackers/virus-makers, etc.) is never-ending? No matter how many pests (like Rehan and roaches) are captured, there will always be a segment out there to disrupt peace? (*sigh*) What do you think?

Aneta said...

:) When I've started to read this review I was wondering will you mantion Poland :D And surprisingly you did :)

I'm from Poland and no matter how much I love Tatry and Zakopane I must admit that version of Mere Haath Mein which was shot in Poland looks really bad. The one in a studio is all the way better.

Mira said...

Hey TBF,

Thank you so much for writing word for word what I feel about this film! (maybe not the Tabu part though; I like her a lot but not enough to see her opposite AK!). Fanaa is the only film that has made me fall in love with a "jodi". Now the spell it cast on me is that I can't imagine Aamir acting without Kajol, and vice versa! (is this why I am not looking forward to watching 3 idiots as much as I would have if Kajol had been cast?)

Cool review! ;-)

phil said...

Just got to watch this movie , great review, many thanks

theBollywoodFan said...

Aneta from Poland! Welcome, and thank you for your comment. Poland looked great in Fanaa, and I agree on the version of Mere Haath Mein they stuck with being the better-looking one. Any specific highlights in the news video included in the post, that non-speakers should know of? Do come again.

Mira! Thank you much for your comment! Interesting you felt the same way about Fanaa. And too bad you feel that way about Tabu :P So did you like the Aamir-Kajol jodi more than Aamir-Juhi? That's really interesting.

The closer we get to 3 Idiots, the more optimistic I seem to get about Kareena giving the performance of a lifetime (because she can act well) to keep up with Aamir. Should be interesting. It would have been very different with Kajol, though, certainly agree on that. Yet, it'll be very interesting to see Aamir and Kareena together, I can't wait! ;)

Phil: Thank *you*, hope you liked Fanaa!


Anonymous said...

hey TBF,
dis is andalib frm da blog shahensha's blog.(lolz)hpe u rmembr.if not chalo koi baat nahin:).for of all wud like 2 comment on ur review of FANAA great wrk
waise i cme hre searching for jamila's rply 2 my Q on AK'S BLOG which she said she hd posted on urs.cmin hre and seeing ur review on FANAA i cudn't resist but comment.bcuz itz my all-time fav mvie featuring 2 world's best actors(dats acco 2 me u see).u r so true 2 say dat kajol hsnt looked dis best with any other actor.i hpe both AK &kajol do mre &mre movie 2gether(which i guzwud bee one in million:D).der chemistry ws so awesome in da mvie.dat ke zabaan bolte nahin thakti.and cnt see any other actress replacin her at all.
i hv grownup watchin his mvies(dis dsnt means he is old).and hv 2 confess wsnt a great fan of his bck den but used 2 love all his mvies(i guz its bcoz he did one mvie in 4yrs)so u cn say i liked him in bits&pieces bck den(lol).bt only after FANAA with did i realize his true potential as an actor JK (i luv all his mvies cnt name one)
waise i hate aamir for one reason and dat is he mkes me cry all da time through his mvies.arrey TBF plz AK ko samjhao na kabhi to apni mvie mein happy ending diya karen.kabhi khud marte hain ya heroine ko marvate hain aur humein bahut rulate hain.:D
i think itz enough of my bakwass .nahin to my writin wud occupy da whole of ur blog i guz(lolz)

PS i first thought u were an angrez who's a dedicated bolly fan.only later cme 2 knw u wre an indian.:)

NidaMarie said...

Aww, thanks for the link! :)

This is truly one of my favorite performances from Aamir and Kajol. I could literally go on and on about it. Their performances and the songs make the film for me.

About Aamir's look--Every time I watch this, it seems that somewhere in between the first and second half, Aamir loses weight. Which makes sense since his character has to pretend to be a soldier. Did you notice that?

theBollywoodFan said...

Welcome Andalib! Thanks so much for your visit and comment. Of course I remember you, kaisi baat kar rahe ho?

Glad you agree on Kajol, they're both perfectly cast, aren't they? And woah, I see you do like this movie a whole lot more than I!

i hv grownup watchin his mvies(dis dsnt means he is old)

Same here, dude, I know *exactly* what you mean! It's amazing to see an actor evolve so much as we evolve so much, puts things in perspective. The ability to continue to relate and find inspiration is what makes it all so impressive, no?

waise i hate aamir for one reason and dat is he mkes me cry all da time through his mvies.

Wouldn't dispute this, you're kinda there. Well, at least TZP mein koi nahin gaya, right? Phir bhi rula diya, LOL!

No 'bakwaas' at all, you're very welcome to stop by any time. There's an index of all films discussed here, check it out!


theBollywoodFan said...

Any time, Nida. It could certainly have been really bad to the point of being intolerable with another lead cast.

That's a great point about the weight loss. I thought it was just the hair, but you're right about him being in better shape by the intermission. I'll be looking more closely at that with my next viewing, although why I would ever want to take my eyes off Kajol in *this* film, I wouldn't know, LOL. ;)

Anonymous said...

AK aur FANAA ki tarif karte to mein important kehna bhool gayi.though i luv the first half.i found the ending rather unconvincing.for instance,the scene when zooni goes 2 fetch water from the river and she finds the body of her father at same spot.hw cme?
and the second thing did u notice when zooni comes 2 know the true ID of rehaan and she tries 2 escape frm him driving away and him running behind.its the exact copy of TERMINATOR-2.where the bad robo does the same.
seeing that scene felt that AK bhi ek robo hai.insaan nahin is film mein.LOL

ps.plz cn u remove my previous comment on feel quite embarrasing.woh to aap ko inform karna tha is liye.


theBollywoodFan said...

Hey Andalib: That scene in which Zooni goes to fetch water from the river and discovers the unnecessary! But it is very filmy, all the coincidences possible tend to come forth in movies such as this, so it's not entirely unexpected, na?

With you on that. Aamir running like T-2 wasn't a problem for me, though :) At that point, he had to be like a robo to keep on going in *that* weather! :D

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Angie said...

Jumping into this very late unfortunately. But I love Fanaa. I can rewatch it a dozen times and not get tired of it (I think I have actually!) And I can watch Aamir and Kajol together a million times over and still be blown away by the sheer magic between them onscreen everytime. They are for me, the jodi of the decade. I sincerely hope they work together again in the future. Would be such a shame if they didn't.

Anonymous said...

Fanaa is great movie. Mere haath mein is my favorite song, amazing picturisation, touching my heart.
Thank's to sonu nigam and sunidhi chauhan for singing this one with angelic voice...