From left: Inaamulhaq (Aftab), Gopal Dutt (Jawad), Sharib Hashmi (Sunny) and Kumud Mishra (Mehmood) in Filmistaan Image Credit:

Winning the National Award should be enough of a review for a film, but when the film receives it before it hits the theatre, one can never be too sure.

However, if it’s Filmistaan, you needn’t worry.

The comedy of errors begins with Sunny Arora’s (Sharib Hashmi) kidnapping by Islamist extremists while he is working as an assistant director and production hand for an American film unit shooting a documentary in the sands of Rajasthan.

Once the jihadis realise they have captured an Indian and not an American they put him under house arrest in a Pakistani border village under the supervision of the gun-toting Mehmood (Kumud Mishra) and Jawad (Gopal Dutt). The house is owned by Bollywood film pirate Aftab’s (Inaamulhaq) father. Locked up, the simple-minded yet optimistic Sunny keeps himself entertained through his art. Also, he finds the perfect counterfoil in Aftab.

Together through their bromance they create a Bollywood of their own in the desert. With his mimicking skills, Sunny wins the hearts of the villagers too.

You cannot help being in splits with Sunny’s perfect star impersonations and when he decides to direct his own ransom video, or when Aftab shoots the elopement scene from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge with Jawad, the cameraman, calling out “rawl, rawling and acting”.

Mishra’s sullen Mehmood and Inaamulhaq’s carefree Aftab shine no less than Hashmi’s Sunny. Hashmi told tabloid! his mimicking skills, which he’d been entertaining friends with for a long time, came in useful for Sunny. Not only is each character well-etched, each actor seems to get into the skin of his characters.

Despite the background of violence, there’s none except for a few rounds being shot towards the end of the film; Mehmood shoots Sunny in the shoulder and releases his anger on Sunny when India wins a cricket match.

One doesn’t miss a “well-timed” item number — maybe with a seductive top actress — either. It’s interesting to watch how the film revolves around a minimal set; a mud house in a dusty village and a tree under which the residents gather to watch pirate CDs.

However, in typical Bollywood style writer-director Nitin Kakar leaves us guessing as to the fate of the two friends at the end of the film. Keeping it open for a sequel? Not that we mind.

The film is refreshing and delivers a message of harmony and friendship through laughter and films instead of drawn-out preachy or melodramatic dialogues, proving that we do have some really talented newcomers in the industry. All we need to do is bring them forth.

Jai Cine maa ki (Glory to Mother Cinema).

Don’t miss it

Film: Filmistaan

Cast: Sharib Hashmi, Inaamulhaq, Kumud Mishra

Stars: 4 out of 5