STORY: Artist Noor loves aristocrat Firdaus, daughter of Begum Hazrat – but what happens to Noor’s obsessive fitoor when Firdaus decides to marry rich Bilal?

REVIEW: So, Fitoor, based on Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, meets some expectations – but not all. In a Kashmir of moonlit snows, mist-filled houses and golden leaves, Noor (Aditya) falls in love with Firdaus (Katrina), daughter of eccentric Begum Hazrat (Tabu), who lives, covered in diamonds, in a castle of chandeliers and chintz.

Firdaus leaves to study. Noor wins an art scholarship in Delhi – where he meets Firdaus again and time stands still. Firdaus finally warms to Noor. But what happens when Firdaus decides to marry Pakistani politician Bilal instead? Why does Begum push Firdaus, despite knowing Noor’s love? And who is Noor’s secret patron, making his art a hit?

Fitoor’s acting pleases in parts. Tabu shines through moments of malevolent manipulation, snarling ‘Kaisa kamzarf waqt aa gaya hai’, as she glares balefully at Noor, then smiles sweetly at him. Aditya occasionally conveys a bewildered lover lost in a whimsical world while Katrina looks gorgeous but mostly stays placid. Ajay Devgn has a cameo as a growling jihadi, all bark but no bite, while Rahul Bhat, the most consistent here, impresses as heavy-lidded Bilal.

The film also looks gorgeous – but opulence takes over substance, chinars, minars and lace dominating grip, passion and pace. For a love story, Fitoor lacks heat -you wish there was less hair-styling and more hair-pulling, more rupture and less cheesecake-like smoothness.

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This is problematic because Dickens’ Great Expectations rises and falls, exploring terrible, tantalising class, social climbing, sharp snobberies, love, hate and shame. Fitoor doesn’t dive beyond the surface though, its story’s shikara paddling along pretty Kashmir, but never tearing its way to its violent, wailing heart like Haider, its art stuck in a banal Mediterranean restaurant-like world, never conveying the lonely powers of love.

You get style – including six-pack Noor painting shirtless (explains why artists score more – can you imagine writers taking their tops off to work?) – but little depth. To play with a great quote, oh what a tangled web we weave, when we learn to retrieve – in this case, retrieving a classic indeed caused a tangle, albeit one of Pashmina dhaagas.

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