Side effects of piracy in the business of movies cannot be argued. However the large scale piracy of Bollywood movies in Pakistan has also affirmed one extremely important and often disregarded factor - the love for the stories, and the stars. Divided by the partition, the countries after all have shared the same ethos for centuries!
And while cricket manages to get both the sides competing, films and the love for the stars invariably get both India and Pakistan on the same side. The fact that Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan have as big a fan base in Pakistan is no secret. And neither is the popularity of Madhuri Dixit across the border, as the hilarious joke made popular by JP Dutta's LOC Kargil indicated. Probably this is where writer-director Nitin Kakkar finds his inspiration for Filmistaan.
Filmistaan is the story of a wannabe actor Sunny Arora (Sharib Hashmi). He lives movies and want to be seen on the silver screen some day. He goes for auditions but never makes it. He is one of those who could probably mimic every other actor but has no style of his own. As he struggles, his friend makes him believe that assisting a director might just help. After all, that's how Hrithik, Ranbir and so many others have made it! During the shoots of a documentary near the Indo-Pak border in Rajashtan Sunny is mistaken to be an American by a group of extremists and abducted hoping to negotiate terms with the US government. As he wakes up Sunny realizes that his in Pakistan now and there is no way to escape.
It could have been a drama from here. But the director opts for an unusual and refreshing comedy! The fun never dies, keeping the laughter going till the very end. Yet again a dangerous proposition, as on countless instances directors have lost out on the screenplay to keep the humour alive. Providing Nitin absolute support is Sharib Hashmi, with not just his performance but the dialogues that he has written. Sharib along with co-actor Inaamulhaq (plays Pakistani villager Aftaab) breathe life into each scene, wowing the audience.
The two represent the masses of each country, who could blend in without traces had it not been for the border. The food is the same, so are the hopes. And source of entertainment as well! They bond over movies and build trust in each other. A scene where Sunny confesses to Aftaab about his hopeless big screen dreams touches. Friendship knows no boundaries.
Also commendable are cinematography and music. Both play up the emotions beautifully.
Comedy is serious business. Even more so when it is the route taken to drive home a significant message, which is anything but funny. And it is always easier to lose way than leave a mark. Of course Filmistaan could have been better had the writer not left some strings untied and not fallen for a couple of moments of commercialization. Nevertheless Filmistaan is a remarkable job.
Finally making it to the release two years after it received the National Award for Best Film in Hindi, Filmistaan is also a step ahead for the film industry. Of course it would have of been better had it managed to make it to the theaters in time to celebrate the centenary celebrations of Indian cinema. But it's never too late for the good! Jai cine-maa ki! Filmistaan is a movie recommended for one and all!
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