Gulzar’s daughter Meghna makes her directorial debut in “Filhaal” – a film that is a kind of a mixed bag with a potent theme and some powerful acting but fails to deliver in content and handling.A fencing match between two childhood friends at the beginning of the story sets the only symbolic tone to the nature of the film . What follows thereafter is a kind of predicability that is notorious in most Bollywood films.
Two images of woman -the strong steadfast one,loyal till the end in the role of Sia(Sushmita Sen) and the other,fickle,tempermental,selfish in the role of Rewa(Tabu)remains the main theme. Yet the two have one thing in common - an abiding love and a lifelong friendship or so it seems before it is translated into a difficult sacrifice by Sia.Their relationship is put to test when Rewa (Tabu) discovers her inability to conceive. Sia (Sushmita) empathizes with her best friend’s anguish and bravely offers to lend her womb to conceive the child of Rewa and Dhruv. The story follows the path of Sia’s pregnancy and Rewa's turmoil and anxiety as she fusses over her friend who is carrying her baby.
This sacrifice though pulls out a pandora box of emotions among the characters and the director brings out pretty dramatically the vagaries of human behaviour. It is difficult to understand how the men don't have a say in the decision making of the two and strangely wins the approval of one and all - a noble sacrifice, considering the fact that the mother to be, is unmarried and is pursued by the ever faithful Saahil (Palash Sen)
The plot has many inconsistencies and many times I was left wondering at "how on earth can this happen". This believe me, happens quite a few times and the jigsaw puzzle needs some thought to be pieced together.Nevertheless, the script chases along. There are a few poignant scenes of the frustration and the resignation of the two men,the underlying simmering jealousy and the emotional upheaval of the two women. Together they bring out the complexity of human behaviour. This is probably the only strength of the film.
Filhaal best shot is its actors and its music. Otherwise the seemingly improbable story line and twists is unoriginal and badly handled. The women are startingly beautiful. Each outdo the other in their roles. Sushmita Sen former Miss Universe, shows talent and promise and it is hilarious to see her towering over her diminutive boyfriend.
Somewhere in the middle of the film, Sia's father is extolling the virtues of his daughter and displaying his pride at her sacrifice for the sake of friendship, when the mother chips in and says"You could not bear to see me suffer when I was pregnant with Sia. Now can you bear to see her suffer"which has him totally silent. In a sense the movie totally distances menfolk from the emotional and physical upheavals of motherhood, an experience not totally understood by them it seems,yet the onus of the decision is one that is shared by all,regardless of the consequences.There are a few questions left unanswered. Too many plausibilities,willing compromises and unexpected forgiveness mar the film from the greatness that could have been.
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