Fitoor Movie Review


A visual tour de force, Abhishek Kapoor’s exquisitely crafted Fitoor holds on to the soul of Great Expectations and imbues it with the spirit of Bollywood without letting the essence of one dilute that of the other.

But that is not to say that Fitoor is an unblemished miracle. It isn’t.

Halfway into the first half, an impressed art impresario lauds the male protagonist’s work, but she hastens to tell him that it needs “presentation, scale and context”.

Fitoor ticks the first two boxes emphatically. It is packaged brilliantly. It also has epic sweep. But in respect of context, it falls well shy of perfection.

The screenplay sets the classic Dickensian tale in captivating Kashmir but is unable to justify the choice of location beyond projecting the hauntingly desirable heroine as a metaphor for a paradise torn between conflicting forces.

Despite that failing, Fitoor succeeds in turning a literary classic into a contemporary cinematic feast for the eyes and the senses.

It alternates between the dark and shadowy and the bright and painterly as it captures the many moods of nature in Kashmir.

The timeless plot of an orphan who makes it big thanks to a mysterious benefactor is, of course, too well known to deliver surprises. It is the treatment that holds the key.

The script (Supratik Sen and Abhishek Kapoor) puts just enough spin on the familiar tale, especially in the second half, to keep the audience guessing.

Like the book that it is loosely based on, Fitoor is a first-person narrative by the male protagonist, Noor (Aditya Roy Kapur).

He is an impoverished, artistically inclined Kashmiri boy whose life takes a dramatic turn when an aristocratic spinster Begum Hazrat Jaan (Tabu), who has scores to settle with the world, employs him in her household.

But Noor’s journey from his humble background to the imposing mansion, and thence to the pinnacle of the art world, is just as much about his growing obsession with the Begum’s daughter Firdaus (Katrina Kaif).

An air of foreboding hangs over the story right from the outset. In the very first line of Noor’s narration invokes doomsday.

Qayamat bhi kya cheez hai,” he declares and takes the audience back a decade and a half to reveal the circumstances in which he met Firdaus.

Noor loses a dear one in a bomb blast – and this is by far the most disturbing sequence in the film. It is bound to catch the audience by surprise.

At one point in the film, the hero admits to the girl he loves that he felt an explosion of bombs over his head the first time he set eyes on her.

Violence is all around Noor. Both the physical space he inhabits – it is often in the grip of severe winter – and the analogies he uses reflect his preoccupation with the harsh realities of his life.

Ruddy chinar leaves become the leitmotif of his art and his unattainable beloved turns into his muse. It is her life-affirming face that begin to dominate his canvases.

Noor is hopelessly smitten by Firdaus, but the latter has other ideas. It is her own sense of where she belongs and the exhortations of her antsy ammi that stop her from reciprocating the hero’s love.

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