Saturday, June 21, 2014

Filmistaan, a B grade movie full of cliches that manages to be good

Nitin Kakkar, the director of Filmistaan, (it is his first film), comes from TV. Filmistaan starts off on an uncertain note but it manages to pick up momentum and credibility in the first half hour. It plays on ironies of the most predictable kind -- the Pakistan army hungry for movie CDs with titillating scenes, and the Pakistan villager who deals in Hindi and other CDs banned in the country. The hero, Sunny, played by Sharib Hashmi, makes a desperate attempt to get a role and goes to the predictable extreme of overdoing his auditions and failing to get a breakthrough. Pakistan villagers are in thrall of Hindi movies. There is also cricketing angle. The Islamist militants just manage to put up with the entertainment needs of the villagers so that they get the base they need. The militants mouth dialogues about setting the country on the right path. But everything has the tone of sham because director Kakkar is keen to put across the message of how people from the two countries have fond memories of the undivided country. Kakkar believes in the platitudes of bonhomie himself. There is no sense of irony when it comes to expressing the emotional bonding.
The screenplay is tactful even as it has nothing more than cliches to offer. The film peaks towards the end, almost achieving its moment of authenticity, with the Pakistan film enthusiast, Jawad, trying to cross over the border along with Sunny. There is a Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid moment in a vague sense.
It looks like that Kakkar is willing to content himself with the documentary tradition with an intent to convey the message. The movie would have been a disaster but for the final scene. Here too, Kakkar goes overboard by playing the speeches of Nehru and Jinah at the time of Independence.
The movie still works because Kakkar painstakingly piles up his cliches and they attain a critical mass which transforms Filmistaan into a very near good film. It remains a B grade movie because of its disarming use of cliches through the film.

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