Feminist film review of Fanaa by Sanjukta Basu

Feminist Film Review: Fanaa

Introduction:

“Change is the only constant”. That’s not my line but I particularly like it. I know just one way of living life, change.

I don’t stay tuned to anything, body, person, concept, thought, believe, system, discipline, logic, reason, philosophy for too long. I change all of them. Or let’s say I move on from one to the other.

With the change of Job, place, people I have recently changed one more thing in my life. Time for my blog to wear different colors. No more blues.

Film / Book reviews are one of the most commonly seen content on the blogs around the globe. But I gotta be a bit different, so I have decided to introduce a new category in my writings, feminist critical review.

Before I begin I must make some confessions. First, I am not at all a movie buff, I used to be one, there was a time when I was to live on ‘films’, but then things ‘change’.  Secondly, I think all critiques are crap.

So what exactly is feminist film review. Definitely not a film review that one reads and decides whether to watch the film in the theaters or not. Feminist reviews are not meant to give a verdict on the quality of the film. I am not here to guide you through your movie watching ordeals. I am not going to tell you what the film was about neither am I going to advice you for or against a certain film. What I am going to do is wear my little feminist glasses and salute those rare moments in our mainstream movies, those which don’t otherwise deal with topics of gender, patriarchy or feminism, and yet reflects gender deconstructions and at the same time, express my disappointment at those which re affirms the same notions.

Review I:

Feminist film review of Fanaa by Sanjukta BasuKunal Kohli film Fanaa, starring Aamir Khan and Kajol made under Yashraj Films.

In few lines Fanaa is a love story between a terrorist and a middle class girl who is blind. She didn’t fall in love with a terrorist because love is blind and so is she but because he pretended to be a tourist guide. He then plotted his own death and fled away from her life. Destiny forced him to knock at her door 7 years later leading to questions of life and death.

Coming from a banner known for its patriarchal movies, one wouldn’t expect Fanaa to be any different. But with Aamir and Kunal there I knew Fanaa won’t fail me. And it didn’t. In Fanaa we have many such moments for which I want to thank Kunal, a person I adore since his small screen days as a film critique himself.

First up, we have Kajol, a middle class Muslim girl, for whom pre marital sex isn’t a sin. Who doesn’t want the man to have a guilt conscious for having slept with her without commitments, she takes complete responsibilities of her feelings and desires both of heart and body, and takes pride, with her head held high, in giving the man his freedom to follow his priorities, without trying to cling on to him for a support system.

Second, we have Kajol’s parents for whom acceptance of their daughter’s pregnancy without marriage is a given fact. There is no noise about it in the movie. Acceptance comes without arguments for or against. This when we don’t have a secret nikaah happening between them at any point, which could justify the pregnancy in the moral police’s eyes.

Then we have Tyaagi. A fierce intelligence officer who have been specially deployed to track down this deadly terrorist. The other major officers of the department soon began to talk about Tyaagi in part jealous and part respectful voices about the posting and taking over the case. As the audience hear more about officer Tyaagi, they expect to see a dashing Sunny Deol ala Damini or an Om Puri or a Sunil Shetty entering the scene. Interestingly, all references to Tyaagi so far were, very smartly made in gender neutral statements. And then tyaagi enters and behold, we have Tabu a lady officer in ‘Tyaagi’. Without much ado (no she isn’t Tejaswini) she proves she is sharper, smarter and more dedicated to her job than her male counterpart.

To make things subtle yet assertive we have a scene where Tabu talks to her child on cell phone. She says (in hindi), “I know my child that you don’t like Kheer much and but halwa, but have it if grand ma have made it with love.” Hearing this her macho male counterpart who has been outshined by her presence passes some silly comment, like “yeah right mom is going to save the country” which Tabu coolly ignores.

In continuation with the same scene, one of the junior officers is heard talking about a certain Army officer’s wife getting worried about her husbands whereabouts as she didn’t hear from him for weeks, whereas the army had this information that, her husband had recently faced an encounter with the terrorists and was the soul survivor of that scuffle but was now safe and sound.

The macho officer cracks a silly sexist joke again, “all these wives are the same naggers I tell you, she must have nagged him on some thing like kheer or halwa which have forced him to run away.”

Tabu on the other hand, starts enquiring more about this army officer, while she was still on phone with her daughter, as she suspected the sole survivor captain to be the terrorist in disguise.

In real life, I see professional men making such sexist jokes about wives and women in general day in and out. The lawyers fraternity is one of the most male dominated place. At lunch on one of those days when I used to be in litigation, we had all opened our lunch boxes to find out that all (except me and I was the only female) had the same sabji (bhindi bole to lady finger). This colleague of mine quickly cracked a joke, “this explains all woman like to cook the same vegetable”. What da…?? Exactly how?? I thought and said, “not really, this explains all men deserve the same monotonous taste of a vegetable as stupid as lady finger.”

Next Review – Karan Johar’s Kal Ho na Ho.

11 thoughts on “Feminist Film Review: Fanaa

  1. Fanaa was a bad film, if we talk about only “The Film”. As far as the characters are concerned I agree with you. Sexist jokes, wel, women also crack, infact we also do that all the time.

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  2. Good Observations. Am sure guys don’t observe such things. Neither did I. Only that you mention now, that I see the movie in a positive light. Otherwise it was pretty much the usual stuff

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  3. “Change is the only constant” – Thats not a quote I just like, but live by. I can’t do without a change in life. However the quote has a more profound meaning to it, than just the ‘English meaning’.

    The above quote is along the scientific principles of Dialectical Materialism. It is a law of dialectical materialism

    This is what Engels has to say.

    “All nature, from the smallest thing to the biggest, from a grain of sand to the sun, from the protista to man, is in a constant state of coming into being and going out of being, in a constant flux, in a ceaseless state of movement and change”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_materialism

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  4. Hi! just dropped by looking for people who like to express themselves in bangalore – welcome to the city, am new here too, and i hate they cook my food here too :)

    any backpacking adventures in store, do drop me a line :)

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  5. Very well at least you spend some time doing such things. But I am not sure if the issues have been deliberately included in the script, this is my opinion. I think these scene have been intrepreted in a very particular manner by you. As far as the issues addressed by the script delibrately can be seen in a scene from SHOLAY, where Gabbar is shown shooting all members of the family but is not shown shooting the child and further when Thakur returns home, a strong wind blows away the white sheets from all the bodies except that of the child. Nice sensible for the director. Any way try this thing at my blog
    http://karnail.blogspot.com/2007/03/working-women-and-income-tax.html

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  6. Fine, I hate stereotypes. For every generalization there is an exception.

    But I must say, most women can’t drive for nuts.

    There you go – I’m a sexist. Sue me, lawyer.

    Feminism is fine. But – behave.

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  7. FANAA BRILLIANT MOVIE BREATHTAKING PERFORMANCE BY ACE KHAN.
    BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE BY KAJOL,A HUGE HUGE
    BLOCKBUSTER WORLDWIDE.
    A LANDMARK FILM OF INDIAN CINEMA

    HATS OFF TO AAMIR AND KAJOL AND YASHRAJ FILMS
    YASH CHOPRA, ADITYA CHOPRA, director KUNAL KOHLI

    AND THE REST OF THE CREW WHO WAS BEHIND fanaa.

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  8. That was a brilliant review. First time I see feminist reviews of Indian movies!!!

    Excellent and about time too!

    Your analysis was good too – I’m going to go and borrow the movie from my cousin now and watch it

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