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When chemistry turns bewitching

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STORIES TAKE A BACKSEAT WHEN A PERFECT PAIR FILLS THE BIG SCREEN. PRATIM D. GUPTA TELLS HOW HE FELL PREY TO THE MAGNETIC CHARM OF AAMIR AND KAJOL IN FANAA   |   Published 30.05.06, 12:00 AM

Kunal Kohli?s a lucky man. Clever yes. Maybe even a tad adventurous. Certainly a big Bollywood buff. And, of course, a man with a big heart. He?s managed to pluck out the two brightest stars from the Mumbai sky and light up theatres, warming the hearts of hum and tum.

His constellation may not have been that well constructed. The Fanaa script has dollops of the two elements you to avoid at screenwriting schools ? convenience and coincidence. The loopholes in the storyline are large enough for King Kong to slip through.

Then, there?s that eternal yearning to stir up a Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The mom-and-daughter machination of a dream shehzada ? the andekha, anjaana type. Friends who dutifully oppose and then support the affair to remember. And even the great train finale by which producer Adi Chopra celebrates the DDLJ hangover and has one of the friends squeal: ?Dilwale dulhaniya le ja raha hai??

But hang on! We aren?t even halfway through this three-hour epic tale of emotions. Let?s clear the bit about SMS spoilers here. If you haven?t seen the film yet or heard from a friend who has, well, as Al Jolson said in the Jazz Singer, ?you ain?t seen nothing yet?. The mobile hoaxes are just that ? hoaxes. And Kajol is blind ? at least for a good part of the film.

The twist in the tale is nice and its repercussions better. The motivation behind the terrorism and the science behind ophthalmology are not clearly laid out. But isn?t it evident that Kunal hasn?t set out to make a Dil Se or a Black where the ground realities of terrorist takes and physical challenges were integral to the plot? Fanaa is a love story where two people?s lives come together, drift apart and cross again, by chance, thus reviving the pangs, the pains, the pleasures and even the politics of romance.

And what two people they are!

For the first time, Aamir Khan is less a character and more a star. But that is not necessarily bad news. Because as he drifts through the many shades of his role, you can see flashes of Rang De?s DJ, touches of Dil Chahta Hai?s Akash and glimpses of Raja Hindustani?s Raja. Here is a star who?s reaping the rewards of having been honest to every character he?s played on celluloid. So, even if Rehaan?s character graph resembles the heartbeat of a chronic cardiac patient, Aamir brings to it a conviction only he can.

And what does one say about Kajol? What does one say about an actress who has turned time back to orchestrate the most remarkable comeback on the Bollywood silver screen? What does one say when breathtaking beauty competes with heartfelt histrionics within the same framework?

For those who have been writing off the Aamir-Kajol chemistry as thanda, they either need retinal replacements or are so hung up on the SRK-Kajol combo that they do not want Bollywood history to be rewritten. And that?s exactly what Fanaa does. From the time Aamir?s Rehaan Guide chances upon Kajol?s meandering Zooni at the Delhi bus stand, it?s protons and electrons at play. He asks: ?Andhi hai kya?? and she retorts: ?Haan, dikhta nahin kya?? and countless dils go hmmm...

The sparks have a lot to do with the great cinematographic ploy of playing on Zooni?s blindness. Since she can?t see, Aamir lets his piercing gaze rest unabashedly on Kajol?s and she in turn keeps looking to the right or left of the camera revealing three-quarter of her face, which is easily the angle she looks best.

And that?s not the only magic wand Ravi K. Chandran has waved. An absolute contrast to the stark lighting of Black, the film is a riot of colours in the first half which then leads to lots of browns, greens and greys in the more grim second half. The three love songs ? Chand sifarish in and around the forts of Delhi, Dekho na in the rains and Mere haath mein in a Kashmir setting ? are so beautifully canned that it would have done Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love and 2046) proud.

Look out for the scene towards the end where Aamir and Kajol are standing on a balcony and the frame is lit up just by the expanse of snow outside and the full moon in the dark sky. Also, the ski-and-shoot action sequence is almost Bond-like.

But then again, nothing shines more bright and nothing looks more gorgeous than the lead pair. Fanaa is not about Rehaan and Zooni. The film has nothing to do with a blind girl and a Kashmiri terrorist. Fanaa is about Aamir and Kajol. It is about every movie that Aamir and Kajol acted in. It is about every character that they ever played. They all come together for this one grand waltz in the psyche of a Bollywood fan and makes Fanaa every bit the blockbuster it is.

So, go the first time to just gape at the two; go the next time to watch the film.



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