At Dubai fest, love stories that remind you of Bollywood | world cinema | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Jul 28, 2017-Friday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

At Dubai fest, love stories that remind you of Bollywood

Halkawt Mustafa’s El Classico and Fares Naanaa’s Borders of Heaven at the Dubai International Film Festival show how Bollywood influences other cinema.

world cinema Updated: Dec 18, 2015 13:59 IST
Gautaman Bhaskaran
Halkawt Mustafa’s El Classico, the story of a dwarf who goes out of his way to impress his prospective father-in-law in order to marry his childhood sweetheart, is heavily influenced by Bollywood in its storytelling.
Halkawt Mustafa’s El Classico, the story of a dwarf who goes out of his way to impress his prospective father-in-law in order to marry his childhood sweetheart, is heavily influenced by Bollywood in its storytelling.(Dubai International Film Festival)

In some ways, director Halkawt Mustafa’s El Classico (in Arabic) -- screened at the Dubai International Film Festival -- straddling between Kurdistan and Spain is Bollywoodish in feel and texture. It is the story of two dwarfs -- real dwarfs and not like the one which was portrayed by Kamal Hassan in his 1989 Apoorva Sagodharargal -- whose peaceful existence goes for a toss when one of them wants to marry his childhood sweetheart, Gona. But her father will not let her -- who is of normal height -- marry Alan, the little man who runs a tea shop in Kurdistan.

Interwoven into this love story is the craze for football. Kurdish locals are passionate about the game, taking noisy sides between Real Madrid and Barcelona FC, known as El Classico. Gona’s father is a Ronaldo supporter and being a cobbler by profession, makes a pair of shoes for his football hero that he hopes to present some day.

Read: Dubai film fest campaigns for Arab cinema

Alan sees this as a great chance to prove his worth to the stubborn old man. Alan steals the shoes one night -- and along with his brother, Shirwan, also a dwarf, who agrees to play Cupid -- embarks on a motorbike trip to Madrid, where Ronaldo lives. The journey is illegal, the brothers have no valid papers, and is fraught with adventure of the most dangerous kind.

Fares Naanaa’s Borders of Heaven underlines how a tragedy shakes the very foundation of a Tunisian couple’s relationship. (Dubai International Film Festival)

Half way through the trip, Shirwan calls it quits, and Alan is left to fend for himself, and while Gona pines for him, her little man presses on.

El Classico, despite its fairytale feel, is a sincere attempt to narrate a love story that is so unequal. While Gona is beautiful and a normal woman, she loves Alan, a dwarf who is often the butt of ridicule.

Read: At Dubai fest, stories of suffering women and their battles

Another love story one saw at the festival was Fares Naanaa’s Borders of Heaven, (also in Arabic) that underlines how a tragedy shakes the very foundation of a Tunisian couple’s relationship. Sami and Sara are in their thirties and appear content and happy till a tragedy befalls them.

In Fares Naanaa’s Borders of Heaven, when the lead pair’s little daughter drowns in the sea, the parents are wracked by guilt and despair and find their bond growing weaker by the day. (Dubai International Film Festival)

When their little daughter drowns, the parents are wracked by guilt and despair -- and find their bond growing weaker by the day. The man takes to drinking, while the woman, fed up with such negativism, walks out of the marriage.

But Borders of Heaven -- again one of those movies that appears to have been influenced by Indian cinema -- cannot let its viewers go home unhappy. Can it?

(Gautaman Bhaskaran covered the Dubai International Film Festival.)

Follow @htshowbiz for more.