In a scene in Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai, Tara (Dimple Kapadia) comes to see the paintings of Sid (Akshaye Khanna). After carefully admiring the beauty of them, she says to him, "Isme bhi vahi baat. Aaj maine tumhare bare me kuch jana hai. Ek aisi baat jo pehli mulakat me pata nahi chali thi. Kehno ko to tum logo se milte ho, haste ho, bolte ho, lekin tumhare andar jo ek duniya hai, tumhare khwaab, tumhare sapne, vo tum kisi se baante nahi. Mujhe to lagta hai jo log tumhe jaante hai vo bhi tumhe nahi jaante." Sid, amazed at her insights, asks her how can she say something like that. She replies, "Darwaza khula nahi hai, andar koi ja nahi sakta, bakse ko kas ke tala lagaya hua, koi chori nahi kar sakta, aur in aankhon ke peeche kaun se jazbaat hai, kaun bata sakta hai. Tumhari har tasveer apne andar na jane kya kya chhupaye hai, shayad tumhari tarah." I couldn't help but remember the scene while watching Abhishek Kapoor's gorgeous and poetic Fitoor, an adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. Fitoor is the story of Noor (Aditya Roy Kapur), Firdaus (Katrina Kaif), and Begum Hazrat (Tabu) enacting the roles of Pip, Estella, and Miss Havisham.
Noor is an upcoming artist from Srinagar. At one point in the film, his friend Arif tells him, "Jo andar hai vahi dikha." Then, he creates some of the most beautiful creations showing what he has inside. He paints numerous portraits of his childhood lover Firdaus, depicting all the memories that he has of her. He paints his life in Srinagar. Later, when he is angry with Firdaus at the party, he makes a painting of her with barbed wires on it which auctions as 'Scar Tissue'. In his exhibition in London, he makes a sculpture of a horse lying upside down, symbolizing his pain as he saw Firdaus for the first time on a horse. When Begum sees this sculpture, she remarks, "Mashallah, Noor, kya dil toota hai tumhara. Sab kuch to nikal ke bahar rakh diya, andar to sab khali ho gaya na." He took out everything that he had in him. It is here that there is a contrast with Sid. As Tara says, there is a leitmotif of something hidden in Sid's painting; however, there is nothing hidden about those of Noor, perhaps, like his own name that means light. Begum further adds, "Nanga lag raha hoga." He must be feeling naked. In earlier shots, we had seen Noor working with his shirt off. His chiselled naked body is representative of this naked state of mind in addition to being a pleasure for the audience's eyes. He has nothing to hide, and he is literally and metaphorically naked. But the irony of fate was that he depicted his true self in his creations but his entire life was based on a lie.
There is an interesting theme throughout Fitoor—of having an amanat (treasure). Noor keeps every memory of Firdaus with him all his life. He does not let go of a single thing that is associated with Firdaus. He keeps her scarf with him. When Firdaus remarks that he is mad that he has kept it with him all these years, he replies, "Amanat hai meri. Jaise tumhare zevar nahi hote." He makes a horse for her that was made of fiber, and in the end, he makes another horse at his London exhibition as he associated Firdaus with running on a horse. He keeps the tiara that he made for her with him all through the years. He keeps the dog that Fridaus played with as his pet with him for all his life. He paints all the memories of Fridaus in his portraits. He buys an expensive second hand red car because Firdaus had a red car. Chahiye to chahiye. He even gets a tattoo of Fridaus on his arm as if he wants to permanently hold on to her memory within him. He learns the passage of the story that Firdaus told him when she was reading a book. When Noor and Firdaus meet in Delhi, they visit Humayun's tomb, and then they go to Taj Mahal—the monuments of love built in the memory of love—the former being made because of an initiative of Bega Begum for his deceased husband Humayun, and the latter being made by Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. (In a scene, we see Noor drinks Taj Mahal tea brand—great product placement and some nice way to make money). Not only Firdaus' memories, Noor also holds onto the sketching book that his sister gave him when he was young. Begum, too, holds on to her possessions. Her amanat. She refuses to let go of Anjuman when she is offered a price much higher than the market price, even though she is on the verge of penury. She keeps the necklace that her lover Mufti gave her; like Noor mentioned earlier that he holds on to the scarf like jewelry, Begum's jewelry is precious to her not because of its monetary value, but because of its emotional value. She wears it all the time, and keeps touching it when she is thinking. Her relative mocks her behind her back by saying, "Aadhi se zyada jaydaat gehno me zayar kar di hai." When she gives a necklace to Firdaus, she says that it is her ammi ki amanat. She tells Firdaus, "Ab tum kisi ki amanat banne ja rahe ho." Firdaus replies what good she will be when she becomes an amanat, she will be like a decorative necklace hung as a showpiece. Firdaus was given as an amanat to Begum. Bilal physically abuses Fridaus as if she was his toy. When Firdaus realizes that she is not any one's possession, she buries her mother's necklace with her dead body, and makes sure to give her engagement ring to her fiance's father. Bilal's father holds on to his amanat—his lifelong love for Begum. Even the mysterious benefactor Mauzzam remembers the phiran that Noor gave him in that icy night. Vo ladka nahi bhula paya, jo ghar se bhaag ke liye mere liye phiran laya tha. Us phiran ki yaad ne kai raat mujhe garam rakha. All these characters are trying to hold on their possessions, their memories, their amanat, because, "Dum toot jata hai par peecha nahi chhotata. Pyaar. Pyaar bhi ajeeb jaanwar hai, chabuk taan do, bhukka maar do, zinda gaadh do, par kambhakht baaz nahi aata." Even after death, one cannot escape love. It is like an animal, Beat it, starve it, bury it, but it never goes away, and it only comes out stronger. Deep inside, they are terribly sad, and the physical artifact compensates for the lack of physical and emotional availability of the people they love.
Unlike Haider in which the political symbolism was quite overt, in Fitoor, the political symbolism is there but it is slightly subdued and focused more on the love story of the characters. In the beginning moments of the film, Begum remarks, "Sabko is jannat ke chhote choote hisse chahiye." Kashmir is often called jannat. When Noor is introduced in the social circuit of Delhi as the boy from Dal, a socialite asks him about his views on freedom. He says that art and politics cannot be separated. The song Hone Do Batiyan appears on an initiative called Roots where a delegation of Pakistan comes to India for talks. After this song, Noor makes a political remark where he screams a popular slogan, "Doodh mangoge to kheer denge, Kashmir mangoge to cheer denge." One of the most impacting scenes of the film is a bomb blast that happens in Srinagar. Noor's exhibition is called Art For Freedom series. At a latter point, Arif remarks, "What could be macabre from one could be freedom for someone else," quite similar to the statement one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Though politics remains in the background, an analogy can be made on the film's characters here as well. Firdaus is like Kashmir, Bilal is like Pakistan, Begum is like India, and Noor is like the people of Kashmir. The stunning beauty of Kashmir parallels with the the beauty of Firdaus. In fact, at one point, Begum says, "Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, haminasto, haminast." If there is ever a heaven on earth, it's here, it's here, it's here. This pharse was used for the beauty of Kashmir, and it has the word firdaus, which reinforces the idea that Firdaus was indeed Kashmir. At another point, Noor talks about the wars between Indian and Pakistanm and that he will have to fight to get Firdaus (Kashmir) this time. Bilal from Pakistan tries to take control of Firdaus, and physically abuses her. Begum is like India. Like Firdaus is not the real daughter of Begum, but she takes care of her, and tries to control her, the same can be said of India and Kashmir. At one point, Begum remarked that she has locked away Firdaus' heart in a safe. In this, Noor fits as the boy from Dal, and he loves Firdaus, like Kashmiris love Kashmir. Firdaus tells him that she thought he will free her, and he replied that either death or love can give freedom from oneself. In the end, Noor and Firdaus get together as if making a statement that only Kashmir and its people can decide its fate. it is his love that sets her free. But to reiterate the film tries to focus more on the love story aspect rather than making political connotations on Kashmir.
The film also shows us the difference in economic class of Noor and Firdaus, and there are various elements that show this difference. When Noor sees Firdaus for the first time, she is riding a horse and he is standing on the ground. She sees his shoes that have a hole in them, and Noor becomes conscious of them. Later, Firdaus is standing at the window and Noor looks up the window. When Noor meets her in a Delhi party, she comes down from the stairs, and Noor looks up. Later, when she calls him from an exhibition, she is again standing at a higher level, and she looks at his shoes. He twitches his toes in his torn shoes. A few seconds later, he goes to a shop and buys the finest of polished shoes. Firdaus is shown at a higher level to symbolize her high status, and the shoes reflect Noor's chaning stature. When Begum saw Noor, she had said, "Jooton se aage aur bhi jahan hai." At a later point, there is another shoe reference, when Leena remarks, "Joote ghis jaate hai yahan tak pahunchte, Noor," where Noor's shoes worn out.
At one point, Begum says to Noor, "Itna dard kaise laate ho apne kaam me." Later, when she visits London, she says, "Kya dil toota hai tumhara." Noor's paintings carry a lot of pain in them. This premise was the theme in Rockstar where Jordan wanted his heart to break because Khatana Bhai had told him, "Toote hue dil se hi sangeet nikalta hai, jab dil ki lagti hai na, tukde tukde hote hain, tab aati hai jhankaar." Music comes from the miseries of the broken heart. When the heart feels pain, and gets broken into pieces, the beats of the music start playing automatically. We, actually, see him feeling the pain. He makes a sculpture using barbed wires, and hurts his hands while making it. Like Jordan, Noor, too, becomes a great artist, driven by Firdaus. Not only Rockstar, at many times, the mood of the film is quite reminiscent of Lootera. The pace and the theme gives strong vibes of Lootera. At one point, Fridaus and Noor are in a car, and the scene looks exactly like the one between Pakhi and Varun, that was also present in the film's poster. At one point in Lootera, there is a replication of a scene in a painting, and in Fitoor, during Pashmina, there is a replica of a scene in a painting. There is also a particular sequence that reminded me of Jodhaa Akbar. There was this scene in that film in which Jodhaa used to look at the ceiling and couldn't fall asleep initially. When Akbar visited Jodhaa's place, the same thing happened to him. Never fully understood the real meaning of that, but here, too, Noor looks at the ceiling. Later, Firdaus also looks at the ceiling but there is a circular wreath lining it, similar to the gift that Noor had made for her.
The red colored-hair of Firdaus and Begum is a representation of the passionate red of the chinar leaves. At one point, Bilal's father says about the love that as time passes, it gets even more thicker. "Jaise waqt guzarta hai, aur bhi gaadha ho jata hai." The thick red-color of Noor's palette is symbolic of this love. His love, too, grew stronger with time. Anay Goswami's superb cinematography accentuates the fitoor (passion) in Fitoor. Kashmir looks beautiful in those colors of white and orange. The film is visually stunning.
Aditya Roy Kapur as Noor is excellent. He channels Noor's passion quite well. He has worked quite hard. Katrina Kaif as Firdaus is decent. She is not as bad as some reviews have called her. She looks the part, and performs good enough. I was quite skeptical of her initially, but she has worked to improve her acting. I really enjoyed their scenes. My favorite scene was when Noor sees her at the party and forgets all the pain of separation of the last few years, and he blushes. Sab pyaar ban ke beh gaya. Firdaus. Bas ek lafz ne hisab kar diya mera.
Even though the film is based on Great Expectations, we actually see a reference from another story by Charles Dickens. Firdaus narrates the famous opening lines from Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."
At one point, Leena says to Noor that his work requires, "Presentation, scale, context." Abhishek Kapoor's Fitoor has all three—presentation, scale, context. She later pitches Noor's work to a client. Bahut soulful kaam hai iska. Likewise, Fitoor is soulful. It is heartfelt. It is thoughtful. O haan main rangaa re. Tere rang rangaa re.
Dialogue of the Day:
"Ek bas seene me dil chahiye, baki aap puri kayenaat se lad padoge."