What follows in italics is my boilerplate for defining a certain type of Bollywood film;Fida fits this category. If you have read other reviews that start with this, then skip past.
For a Bollywood movie to have the greatest chance of success it has to be at least 150 minutes long, have a problematic love story, at least 2 song and dance numbers (or a music video montage equivalent), swindling or gangsters—if swindling then guns are optional and might be just for show, if gangsters, then guns are required as is at least one shoot out. No lie—tongue in cheek yes, but no lie.
Briefly, Fida has all the ingredients, they are just poorly chosen and poorly mixed.
The movie begins with a cybercrime: the theft of billions of rupees from a notorious gangster, Babu (I can’t imagine that name sounding notorious to anyone, so it is a very early example of bad choices that plague the film).
Then this other movie starts. Jai, a young man so frantic Adderall would be candy, sees a young woman for less than an instant and becomes insanely smitten. He pesters her, Neha, with dozens of flower arrangements and everything else a cute puppy can think of to gain her attention, convinced that her affection will finally follow. His pep and persistence pay off and they begin the happily ever aft … Except that Jai comes home to find Neha choking, hanging from her scarf attached to the ceiling fan. He cuts her down and learns that she owes millions to a gangster who will, predictably, kill her in two days if she cannot come up with the money. Realizing that liquidating everything he has (which is substantial for someone with no truly explained income), will not cover the debt, he decides to rob a bank to save his beloved.
As luck has it, an account holder is withdrawing nearly the same amount of money, in cash, so Jai changes plans and opts to rob the one man instead of the whole bank. He breaks into the man’s house. Instead of simply killing Jai, Vikram listens to why he was so desperate. Viram, it turns out, is the cyberthief involved in the first movie an hour earlier, so he gives Jai the money in exchange for Jai allowing the world to believe he was the mastermind.
Two things happen very quickly. Babu learns “who” stole his money and goes after him. And Neha tells Jai that she was using his infatuation to set him up to be the fall-guy so that she and her real man, Vikram, could live without fear of cop or Babu.
No gangster is going to let the justice system take responsibility for retribution, so he sends blazing guns to get the boy. During the haphazard shoot-out, Jai appears to escape or die trying.
Then this other movie starts. Spooky things start to happen to Neha. Items she lays out, jewelry and clothes for instance, get replaced with things she will associate with Jai. There is a phantom phone call and a bit more “I Know What You Did Last Summer” play before Jai lets the couple know that he is alive and that Babu knows the whole story.
What happens after that is … I’m going to continue to gripe a little but not going to spoil the ending.
As for the review; I’ll take it one movie at a time.
Fida starts off badly and never recovers. In order for a gangster movie to work, the gangster must be, well, a gangster. It is a universal character type that can generally be recognized cross culturally without much translation. Babu is a stereotype of the pretend eunuch thrown out of the harem; he is a sweaty buffoon. I’m going to mix this metaphor just a wee bit more. When he shoots one of his men in cold blood to prove a point, it looks like a fat circus clown shooting a skinny circus clown with a popgun. So when Vikram, who is not terribly sophisticated either but does know how to bathe, separates the fool from his money, we feel like cheering because Vikram put the fool back in his proper place.
Fida is translated as “Besotted”; which is a perfect definition of the second movie. It isn’t a love story, it is a flick for 14 year old girls to giggle at and rewind enough to watch the dance numbers more than once. This is oppressive silliness that makes the third movie impossible to swallow.
I cannot accept Jai as even a little threatening, let alone harboring enough hate (or muscle) to string Neha up by her neck, mirroring the event that ruined his life. If anything, Neha is even less believable and she is the dynamo meant to drive the film. Given the weakness of the character, a film based on her will fail to inspire much energy or interest.
Kareena Kapoor (Neha) and Shahid Kapur (Jai) are heart-throbs. Fida allows itself to fall victim to the problem of casting two such beautiful people in the principle roles: if your actors are pretty enough, the story doesn’t really matter (I call this the soft soft-core porn effect). Put cynically, Mr. Kapur brings in the girls, Ms. Kapoor pulls in the boys, and with any luck the action aspect will pull in a slightly less giggly and acne-plagued audience. I always feel supremely cheated after seeing a movie like this because I feel like the victim of a rigged carnival game.
That said ... if the link to the main song and dance creates a very guilty pleasure ... Fida is still a waste of time, but you waste it looking at pretty people.
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About the reviewer
Paul Savage (cyclone_march)
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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