Fanaa ("Destroyed in love") marked the return of the actress named Kajol to the screen after a several-year hiatus to raise a young child. Before Fanaa I had only seen Kajol in one awful film (Ishq), though she starred opposite Shah Rukh Khan in some of the biggest hits of the 1990s. Because her comeback was so eagerly anticipated among fans of Hindi film, and because Fanaa paired her with GOAT favorite Aamir Khan, I looked forward to this one. Add to that the fact that I got to see it on the big screen in its first run, and my expectations were high.
Unfortunately, Fanaa did not quite meet those expectations.
It has a few strengths, especially the steamy romance between Kajol and Aamir – they set the screen on fire. Zooni (Kajol) is a sheltered blind girl from the Kashmiri mountains who ventures to Delhi with some of her schoolmates to dance on stage at a government event. Rehan (Aamir) is the carefree, flirtatious tour guide hired to show the young women around the city. Their attraction crackles from the moment they meet, and they are the delight of the film's first half, as they playfully improvise poetry to one another and tear around the streets of Delhi. At the intermission, the film takes a sinister turn. But the film's second half dissolves into a masala mess with plot holes that a jetliner could fly through, and as the wheels start to come off and the ride gets bumpier, the magnetism of Fanaa's two stars is not enough to carry it through.
The film does have a fun soundtrack and some gorgeous picturizations - "Chand sifarish," for example, is a catchy toe-tapper, and "Mere haath mein" is pretty both to listen to and to watch. But the story's weaknesses ultimately distracted from the searing beauty and heartbreak of the romance. When Kajol and Aamir were alone together on the screen, Fanaa sizzled. The rest of the time, it fell somewhere between flat and ridiculous.