In Mumbai, affable Bollywood buff and wanna-be-actor Sunny, who works as an assistant director, fantasizes on becoming a heart-throb star. However, at every audition he is summarily thrown out. Undeterred, he goes with an American crew to remote areas in Rajasthan to work on a documentary. One day an Islamic terrorist group kidnaps him for the American crew-member.
Sunny finds himself on enemy border amidst guns and pathani-clad guards, who decide to keep him hostage until they locate their original target. The house In which he is confined belongs to a Pakistani, whose trade stems from pirated Hindi films, which he brings back every time he crosses the border. Soon, the two factions realize that they share a human and cultural bond. The film shows how cinema can be the universal panacea for co-existence.
FILMISTAAN is one of those rare Hindi films that juxtaposes drama, humor and emotions seamlessly [screenplay: Nitin Kakkar]. An absorbing plotline is spread out splendidly into a 2-hour film and believe me, there’s never a dull moment in the entire narrative. Although the film does highlight cross-border terrorism, it also sheds light on the love that people from both sides have for Bollywood. Additionally, while the Indian protagonist is held captive in a hamlet in Pakistan, the film doesn’t come across as gloomy or dark. And despite the fact that he faces hardships/atrocities at the hands of his Pakistani captors, the director presents a picture of hope and optimism.
The only time FILMISTAAN falters is during the middle of the second hour, when a couple of episodes seem stretched, but these are passing clouds in an otherwise sunshine film. The penultimate moments, again, leave you mesmerized at the turn of events and you wonder, will the protagonist escape alive? Will he cross over to India?
The locations are delightfully captured by the DoP [Subhransu Das], while the background score [Arijit Datta] is effectual. Dialogue, penned by Sharib Hashmi, are well-worded and most appropriate.
FILMISTAAN stands tall thanks to its superior writing, besides benefiting tremendously from its strong casting. Both Sharib Hashmi and Inaamulhaq are a complete revelation, slipping into their respective parts with astonishing ease. Sharib holds you attentive from the commencement itself, when he impersonates a couple of Bollywood actors with flourish and maintains the sur right till the finale. Inaamulhaq too pitches in a fabulous performance, his performance and body language making you forget you’re watching an actor emote.
Kumud Mishra revels in his solidly-written role and delivers a pitch-perfect, dynamic performance as the terrorist. Gopal Datt is another actor to watch out for. He’s absolutely believable as Kumud’s subordinate. Waseem Khan, portraying the part of Inaamulhaq’s father, gets his part spot-on. Habib Azmi is first-rate as the haqim sahab. Sanjay Mehta, the leader of the extremist group, is appropriate. Tushar Jha, as Aftaab’s younger brother, is okay. Manoj Bakshi, as the Indian cop, is efficient.
On the whole, FILMISTAAN walks the tightrope between offbeat and commercial with gusto. This is a massively entertaining film. A film that shouldn’t be missed at all. Watch it. Now.