As the movie began there was a wide smile on my face watching young Noor and Firdaus. The stirrings of first love. The awkwardness and the unexpected pleasures that lie ahead. Young love is so beautiful, the possibilities are endless but when it doesn’t work out which is inevitable because it is not made to weather the storms of the world, you get your heartbroken. It is a rite of passage. You feel as if you will never be whole again and your pain is unprecedented in the history of mankind. (Guess what it’s not and this one is practice for getting your heartbroken many times during the course of your life.) A door to a new world is opened and the universe is forever altered.

Mohammed Abrar as the young Noor is terrific as the vulnerable, shy boy who desperately wants to belong, and be a part of Firdaus’s world. Earnest and likable, I would have liked to see more of him. Watch out for the hole in the shoe moment; it is tender and heartbreaking.

The innocence is carried forth into adulthood by Aditya Roy Kapur splendidly. My eyes stay on Noor even when he isn’t shirtless. Katrina as Firdaus looks chic but not that big a departure from her conventional avatars. She looked better in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, if you ask me. Tabu is matchless as the Begum who plays Firdaus’s mother. No husband in sight, it’s just her and her daughter. It is her machinations which drive the plot forward, and it is her story which sets the tone for the characters.

He is thrust into the world of art after an anonymous benefactor recommends Noor’s name (it is not who you think it is) to an art residency in Delhi, a world far removed from his own. Here the adult Firadaus makes her first appearance in his life.

Unsure about his place in the world, making art is the only thing that makes sense to him. He doesn’t know why he loves Firdaus. He just does. This gravity defying love he feels for Firdaus I don’t understand (must read Great Expectations!) but I suppose that’s what great love stories are about.

His lack of sure-footedness is portrayed convincingly. A lost soul, a dreamy artist but chillingly aware of the harsh realities of life. He doesn’t quite fit into the unforgiving materialistic world he is a part of.

The scenes where he’s making art shine. He is perfectly believable as a tortured artist. It is not exactly a case of the artist and the muse but a case of unrequited infatuation. quite possibly love finding a vessel in his art and hence her serving as a muse first indirectly then directly. Watch the movie it will make sense to you.

Firdaus is a terrible beauty who feels but knows that she is not allowed to feel. Noor emotes with his eyes and carries his pain in his persona.

More than the lead characters the movie belongs to Tabu which is a shame because it was marketed as a love story. Slowly fading away in sadness and illness, the elaborate costumes make her look deranged. Never seen a character like this in Hindi cinema (or maybe I haven’t watched that many movies).

There is a single bomb explosion in the movie (the only thing which told us it was shot in strife ridden Kashmir) was sudden and I exclaimed loudly because it took me by surprise. I looked around in the dark to see if anyone had seen that it was me that let out a small shriek (I can assure you that it wasn’t a full-fledged scream).

Noor ka Fitoor. Fitoor means madness or obsession, I took the help of Google aunty to find the meaning. So apparently the movie is self-explanatory. The most intense lines are the ones that follow.

Doodh mango kheer denge
Kashmir mango cheer denge

Indo-Pak relations explained while the song Honedo batiyan unfolded which added to the sentiment expressed by above words.

The mind of an artist is an interesting place to delve into and I have always been fascinated by them. I liked Noor. It was easy to get lost in his soulful portrayal and drink in the tortured aura. The love story itself had no depth. Noor is not afraid to show how he feels, completely besotted with Firdaus and she finds his not so proper expression of love too much. She even disagrees this is love always the puppet in her mother’s hands wanting to do the right thing. The Begum lives through her daughter trying to control her life – shielding her from both pleasure and pain.

I loved Aditi Rao Hydari as the young Begum. She brought an innocence and freshness to the part which was a contrast to the bitter scorned woman she became later essayed masterfully by Tabu.

Tum mohabbat mein lut ne ke liya nahin bani ho Begum says to Firdaus. She has a tough battle on her hands to reclaim her life.

Yeh ishq nahin ha asaan
ya to dooboge
ya tair ke nikloge

Begum’s words to Noor are weighty. I don’t know anything about adapting a script for cinema nor I have read Great Expectations (as you must have noted by now) so I cannot say how accurate the adaptation is but as a movie it was one of the better ones though as a love story it failed in parts. Abhishek Kapoor may not have been able to execute what he intended to but his heart was in the right place.

Amit Trivedi has done a stellar job with the songs which added to the dreamy feel of the movie. The funny thing is I didn’t feel like there were enough songs in a movie which was supposed to be an epic love story. Then I realized I never saw Pashmina but only heard a few lines. Alas it was promotional! The cinematography of the movie is good, Kashmir is portrayed so beautifully. The black electric poles in white snow. The autumn colour of Chinar leaves. Bare trees with stark branches. Arresting images and achingly beautiful.

If a film doesn’t overwhelm you in any way is it worth watching at all? That is the question for me because I had been really looking forward to Fitoor. I was let down by a case of expectations not met but I would urge you to watch Fitoor. Just don’t go expecting an intense love story. I remember thinking, towards the end, why am I not crying and I cry at the drop of a hat so this didn’t bode well. When the movie ended I was still waiting for something to come on the screen an epilogue or a dialogue. It felt incomplete and anticlimactic. (I felt stupid when people were standing up to leave.)

Since I have never read the book (sacrilege admitting that I am yet to read Dickens) I have no clue if the adaptation was faithful or not but people have told me there have been no major departures.

I have found a copy of  the Great Expectations and hope to read the book in this lifetime (hides behind bookshelf).

I know it’s a little late in the day to ask but you do what you got to do. Have you seen Fitoor?

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