This is a film, that despite its origins, has universal appeal; it exponentially gets better and better; focusing on India/Pakistan relations; no sensational headlines, just an insightful look at ordinary people, some nefarious, some humane, struggling to live in tumultuous times.
The film is anchored by the remarkable performance of Sharib Hashmi as “Sunny” a frustrated wanna-be-Bollywood movie star; he is a rotund, lacking traditional Bollywood lightness and beauty, but has delusions of grandeur that hundreds of rejections cannot dispel; he finds a job, as an assistant director, with an inexperienced American crew, filming in Rajasthan; he is mistakenly kidnapped, wakes up in Pakistan and the hilarity, joy and sincere portrait of divisive neighbors provides epic entertainment.
Sunny’s magical personality and gift for mime converts the children of this arid, bereft village; his leery captors are stymied by his interpretations and memorization of Bollywood iconic films; a friendship develops between Sunny and “Aftaab” (Inaamulhaq) a Pakistani privateer of Bollywood/Hollywood movies, shown clandestinely under darkened skies, to a rapt audience, gluttonous for the forbidden; Islam condemns delicious delights others freely nibble on.
“Filmistaan” is a perfect blend of the significant and insignificant; politics and platitudes, mayhem and equanimity; it stuns in its transformative powers, each individual discovers an untapped fountain of goodness, courage and strength; questioning beliefs deemed inalienable; a just or vengeful god? The grey areas sting with prodigious interpretations.
Here is a film that crosses all borders, lending credence to a theory that legendary animosities may melt under proper tutelage; possibly just a dream, but a worthy one.