As a six year old, I remember having sat on my dadi’s lap, learning ‘alif be pe te se’, and listening to stories of her childhood in what was now, Pakistan. She would talk about her ‘bebe’ and her ‘imarti-shaped’ gold kangans that she left behind only because their clasp was loose.

‘I should have got them with me. I believe gold is around Rs 700/- now?’, she would rue her decision.

I would be fascinated with her stories that scampered around the streets of Lahore, giggling, calling out to friends, spending some precious annas on treats: they transported me to a land that was, in some ways, my own but, then, not mine.

While watching Filmistaan yesterday, dadi came alive again. I was laughing, wistful, and once again, transported to a place that felt like my own, but, sadly, was not.

Nitin Kakkar, let me begin by saluting your brilliance: you rock, man! It could not have been better! Sunny (Sharib Hashmi), the lovable, lovable buffoon, made me giggle right from the time he showed up on screen, auditioning for a role in Bollywood.

Paunch? Really? He must be the comedian!

I thought the real hero would show up soon – the one with the sleek jawline, and brick-abs. And a pouting bimbo by his side. But, they did not! And, am I glad for that or am I glad!!

So Sunny  is an optimistic struggler, who is looking for a role, even though his progress so far belies that. He agrees to on a location shoot as an A.D. for a documentary film which is to be shot in Rajasthan. He is told that the trip begins after Holi, to which he responds,

‘Holi Kab Hai, Kab hai Holi? Haan ? Haan? Haan?’

Now, Sunny gets kidnapped by terrorists, in a gaffe :  the actual target were the American movie crew. He wakes up in a small cottage in Pakistan. The cottage belongs to a hapless family that is coerced into housing Sunny and his guards. He is being guarded by Mehmood (Kumud Mishra) and Jaaved (Gopal Dutt), two unsmiling terrorists who are bewildered with Sunny’s Bollywood-inspired antics.

The piece-de-resistance is the shooting of the hostage video by the terrorist. Sunny directs and acts in it, even drawing upon the terrorist as actors.

Sharib Hashmi’s impersonations of Sunny Deol, Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty, Raj Kumar and Ashok Kumar are brilliant, and at the same time, woven well in the screenplay – they do not look contrived.

I get s stich in my side as I watch him entertaining the village kids from the window of the room in which he has been locked up in and getting into an altercation with Mehmood over the same. Till, it ends badly with Sunny getting punched. The sweetness in the movie gets punches of sourness every now and then. A funny dream that ends rudely. Hope that gets snuffed. Will this be the end too?

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The days pass, and Sunny befriends the son of this house, Aftab (Inaamulhaq) who makes a living out of selling pirated Bollywood CDs. Their love for movies draws them closer, and soon, they become best friends.

‘Mera asli hero toh tu hi hai,’ Aftaab tells Sunny.

Aftab plans an escape for Sunny, under the façade of a movie that he plans to shoot with the village folks starring in it. He takes Sunny’s camera for it. The auditions for the same are hilarious. Finally, the hero, Razzack (a skinny, bearded youth) and the heroine, Razia (a not-so-skinny, bearded youth) are selected and the shooting starts.

The dialogue, ‘Razia, main aa gaya’ is rendered in a deafening, thundering road by the ‘hero’. Aftab, the director, discards the shot with an announcement:

‘Kivaad band kar lo Razia, daaku aa gaye!’

We are just hooked to what’s unravelling on the screen. For a while, we forget that  Sunny is actually in serious trouble.

Will Sunny manage to escape? What are the consequences that Aftab faces? We do not even realize when the frothy, funny ‘film-shoot’ in the movie changes to acquire sinister shades. It is bone-chilling. Mehmood looks staunchly undeterred and Jaaved, while revealing some hints of faltering, is too indoctrinated to think independently.

We are pensive:

‘Who are the real hostages? Sunny? The villagers? Or Mehmood and Jaaved themselves?’

The climax is brilliant: with Nehru’s and Jinnah’s speeches reverberating in the background, Sunny and Aftab battle with the terrorists. We watch, helplessly, hopefully.

We vote for hope.

 

 

 

 

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