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Filmistaan: This quirky charmer from first-time director Nitin is fresh in vision

Filmistaan-2014Hold this film tight. There is an utterly moving sequence towards the end of this lovely parable on cross-border amity where Sunny(Sharib Hashmi), who has strayed into Pakistan, confesses to Aftaab(Innamulhaq) that he is obsessed with Bollywood and wants to be a hero, though he knows he doesn’t have it in him.

“Mera asli hero toh tu hi hai,” Aftaab tells Sunny sincerely.

For me, that moment sums up the mood of this big-little film. Made at a shoestring budget by fringe talent, the film shows us that true heroes can be found in most unexpected places.

Try this hamlet in the back of the beyond in Pakistan where our Bollywood struggler is locked up by militants who actually wanted to kidnap Americans for …errrm…negotiations.

And look what they dragged in!

“Filmistaan” would have been an outrageously funny film were it not for the profoundly moving underbelly that it secretes with such fluency and spontaneity. The film could have become a gallery of cliches about Indo-Pak harmony. A sort of Veer-Zara turned into a Veeru and Zara-uddin who become friends in Pakistani soil while guns boom all around them.

Sachindra Vats edits the scenes down to the minimum when required. But generally he lets the charactes develop naturally even if the process takes some time. The film is shot in authentic locations by cinematographer Subhransu Das who brings to the table an enticing aaura of believability.

The dialogues written by the film’s lead Sharib Hashmi never become top-heavy with message-mongering, nor does the going get excessively verbose as it did in the recent cross-border film Kya Dilli Kay Lahore.

It’s astonishing how director Nitin Kakkar averts all the corny cliches of brotherhood across the barbed wire. By simply using Bollywood as the binding factor between the two countries, Nitin emerges with a plot that is high on emotions and low on tripe and homilies.

This quirky charmer from first-time director Nitin is fresh in vision and enchanting in execution. The only happy outcome of the cross-border divide is a heartwarming film such as this. As we often say about the Wagah border, this you gotta see.
Four stars for this one.

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