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Hindi film-makers don’t stoop below jingoism and profundity when directing a story involving India and Pakistan. The brotherly love in Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan is refreshingly banal. It is triggered by an irrational love of Bollywood films that two men, from India and Pakistan, share. The comicality in Kakkar’s film, based on an original story written by himself, is smart slapstick. Some scenes are knee-slapping funny. It is a lean screenplay, translated on screen with competent acting, Kakkar’s understanding of that place and mindset common to both countries and refined and beautiful cinematography by Subhransu Das.

Sunny (Sharib Hashmi) is a Bollywood addict, aspiring actor and an assistant director on a shoot with a foreign crew on a sandy expanse of Rajasthan bordering Pakistan. By mistake, a militant group captures him along with his film equipment and holds him hostage in the house of a family. Two leaders of the group always guard him. Like Sunny, the family’s older son Aftab (Innamulhaq) is a Bollywood film pirate and equally in awe of Salman Khan, Yusuf saab and Maine Pyar Kya. They become friends and Aftab plots Sunny’s escape. Hashmi and Innamulhaq, new to film acting, muster just the right amount melodrama and realism to their roles and are much of the film’s charm.

Scenes are elaborate without being flabby, and the humour in the dialogues and situations—never rising above the literal, but sharp—keep the film breezy.

Imagine a utopia which is neither India nor Pakistan, where a whole village laughs and cries watching Hindi films under the desert moon, and despite being hostage to religion-driven fanaticism, the hero uses a film camera to win hearts.

Filmistaan released in theatres on Friday

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