There are great movies and then there are good movies. Then you get average movies, followed closely behind by bad movies and, a little further down, really shitty movies. And below that you get all the Uwe Boll movies, and a few steps further down you’ll come to a huge steaming pile of Dhivehi movies. At the very bottom of this stinky pile, resting quite firmly and heavily, are all the Amjay movies. And then… AND THEN BELOW ALL THAT… there’s Fathishandhuvaruge Feshun 3D.
My expectations were pretty clear going to this movie. This was going to be a bad movie, there was no doubt since almost everyone who saw it seemed to complain about how bad it was and how it made no sense. What I wasn’t prepared for was the 3D. I had heard only a few complaints about the 3D so I chalked that up to some people who just couldn’t experience 3D, since there are people who suffer from that particular condition. I’ve watched several 3D movies without problems, so it was totally unexpected when I started going cross-eyed every now and then while watching F3D as my eyes desperately tried to figure out whether that branch or that flower or that plant was in the foreground or in the background. The 3D in F3D works, that much is true, but it’s very inconsistent. Every time the scene changes, or switches to another camera angle, the depth perception shift causes my eyes to refocus, trying to adjust to the change. I’ve never had headaches with 3D before, but this did give me a headache. About 30 minutes in, I gave up and placed the stub of the movie ticket between the 3D glasses and my right eye, blocking the view from that eye, effectively negating the 3D and also allowing me to view the movie without double images. That’s a tip, folks. You should try it.
Another problem with the 3D was there was just too much depth! This made everything look a bit… elongated or too wide. A distance of about two or three feet in real life looked to be about double that distance in the movie. There was once scene in particular where Faisal’s character was sitting behind a desk and leaning forward. The 3D made him look like a giraffe leaning forward towards you! His head was poking out of the screen while the rest of his body was way back behind the desk! It looked like he had a neck that was about 3 or 4 feet long. Honestly, that kind of freaked me out! And it wasn’t just me. Other people in the audience were commenting on it too.
Still, the 3D was a good first effort on the part of the crew. Proved they can do it, and they will no doubt get better with experience. However, maybe next time they will make a movie where the 3D actually enhanced the movie in some way. For this movie, the 3D wasn’t necessary at all. But then again, this happens even in Hollywood. There are only a few Hollywood movies that made good use of the new 3D technology. Avatar, Hugo, and Life of Pi are among the most notable that I have personally experienced. The rest just used the 3D as a gimmick and didn’t contribute much to the films in anyway. Just because you have the technology, doesn’t mean you should use it on everything.
Now that the tech part is out of the way, let’s get on with the review. To be honest, I had no idea what really happened in the movie. The movie didn’t start with a song and dance sequence, so that’s a plus. And the movie only had two songs, so that was a good thing again. Unfortunately, the songs were absolutely terrible!
The story revolves around how Saleem (Faisal) falls head over heels in love with Niha (Fareela) and, after being rejected because he’s her boss and because she really didn’t like him, attempts to win her through black magic, since that’s how we do things here in Maldives. The black magician that Faisal goes to for help in this delicate matter is Naseem, played by Nimal and notably the only person in the whole movie who puts in a good performance despite the material he had to work with. Nimal apparently holds in thrall a powerful jinni (Eyoopee) and he uses the jinni to do all the supernatural work required by his rich clients. Nimal plays the money-hungry black magician’s role pretty well, although it’s never explained why he doesn’t just ask his powerful jinni to steal as much money as he wants from a bank or other people’s pockets/safes. Surely, that’s an easier way to make money than to wait for some unlucky bastard to ask him for help every now and then and squeeze him dry.
I got the impression that the screenplay had some really funny dialogues and exchanges between characters but the direction, editing and delivery didn’t have the comic timing to make it effective. For example, one of Nimal’s favorite clients asks him to use black magic to stop a colleague from filing a case against him in court. He asks Nimal to “shut his mouth” but not to kill him. Nimal sends his jinni after the client’s colleague, and this is where we are first introduced to Eyoopee’s jinni character. The victim’s motorcycle breaks down in a suitably abandoned and creepy area; presumably the jinni’s doing even though this is never clarified. Then the jinni appears behind him in a puff of black smoke and proceeds to “shut his mouth” by actually sealing his mouth shut using the exact same technique that Agent Smith uses on Mr Anderson in the interrogation room scene from The Matrix. For some reason the poor dude dies while suffering from this highly random situation. From a heart attack caused by shock and fright, I presumed at first, but Nimal later tells his client (dead pan, with a straight face and no hint of smirking) that the death was a side-effect caused directly by having had his mouth closed. Literally. Har har. Good dark humor there. However, due to the way the scene was shot and edited, it wasn’t funny and no one laughed. Also, the victim apparently suffocated to death because of his sealed mouth, but his nose seemed to be in perfectly good working order. Why would he suffocate just because his mouth was sealed? Perhaps his nose was blocked due to a cold or something. Congestion can be a killer. That would explain it.
Before moving on let’s discuss the way that the jinni appears and disappears in a puff of smoke. In his first appearance, we see some dark smoke puffing and gathering behind (or in front, couldn’t really tell due to the way the 3D made me go cross-eyed) the first victim. And when the victim turns around there’s Eyoopee standing right next to him, appearing suddenly accompanied by the loud sound of a huge drum! Seriously, everything in this movie happens accompanied by the sound of a huge drum being banged mercilessly! In his first appearance as the powerful jinni, Eyoopee is dressed in black, hair tousled and sweating as if he’d run a whole 1000 kilometer marathon in a minute to get there. The next time he materializes it’s inside Nimal’s room after being summoned by the black magician. When the camera cuts to him, the jinni has already materialized in the room but there’s a huge tuft of black smoke emanating from behind him, as if he’s just let a huge one rip! Once the supernaturally evil fart-smoke disappears, the jinni looks up slowly, as if to say, “Yea, I did it. That was me!” I don’t understand why they couldn’t have shown him materializing with a cool fiery and smoky effect. There are enough After Effects tutorials on how to do that on the Internet, after all. But this fart-smoke materialization isn’t impressive at all. Most of the other VFX were not as cool as I had expected from the trailers either. The problem, I think, was the 3D.
The 3D makes all the VFX work look like it was done on a separate layer several inches in front of the actors. The various VFX elements never blend in enough with the real footage to convince the eyes that they are actually real. Even in the scene where Fareela looks at her hand as she starts slowly disintegrating, it doesn’t look like the disintegration effect is happening to her face and hands. It looks like there’s another layer several inches in front of her that’s actually disintegrating and floating away. When you look at the scenes in 2D (just close one eye), the VFX compositing and blending looks fine though.
One of the worst things about the movie is Eyoopee’s portrayal of the central character, the powerful jinni. I think he might have been going for the “dark, brooding and quiet but brimming with danger and malice on the inside” kind of portrayal but what it comes off as is “I’m really constipated and trying to hold in this fart of epic proportions so I can’t make any sudden moves” portrayal. Which, in hindsight, really goes well with the fart-smoke materialization scene, now that I think about it. Also, I really don’t understand why he had to look like a hobo all the time. In most movies, when you portray a supernatural being, there is a certain look to the person that puts him apart from normal humans. Usually the character is more handsome or beautiful than the others around him, and looks immaculately clean and fresh, like he’s just stepped out of the shower or something. Most times the supernatural characters give off a vibe or emanate a sense of being in total control of himself and his surroundings. Lording over all and everything type of thing, you know. In essence, being effortlessly superior to everyone at all times and in all respects. Eyoopee always appears flustered, sweaty, with his hair in a tangled mess and his shirt looking crumpled as if he’d been sleeping on some pavement for a few nights after being kicked out of the house for drinking all day and night. In short, looking like a hobo.
Anyway, back to the story. So now that we know that the Hobo-Jinni is being controlled by Nimal for his own nefarious money-grubbing schemes, we get to the part where Nimal makes a deal with the lovesick Faisal to make Fareela fall in love with him. What follows is a few slightly amusing scenes where Faisal tries to get a lock of Fareela’s hair for the black magic ritual. He succeeds in the end by sneaking into her room in the middle of the night and cutting off a lock of her hair while she’s asleep. This is actually easier than it sounds since Fareela apparently doesn’t believe in locking doors. Nimal then sends the Hobo-Jinni over to Fareela’s house to do the voodoo while she’s asleep. And predictably, Hobo-Jinni falls in love with Fareela, I’m assuming because she looks exactly like his wife. No, not in real life. I mean in the movie. See, in a flashback they show Fareela and Eyoopee being all lovey-dovey until some evil black magician traps Fareela in a spell (for some reason) and destroys her while Eyoopee watches on the ground helplessly screaming “NOOOOOOO!” However, even though Hobo-Jinni falls in love with Fareela, he goes ahead and does the voodoo on her so that she immediately falls in love with Faisal. So the next time Faisal calls her in the middle of the night, she’s like “oooh Salley! I’ve been waiting all my life for you.”
After that, things finally seem to going well for Faisal and he concocts a plan to get Fareela alone with him by arranging an office trip to an uninhabited island. At this point Fareela is already in love with Faisal and practically climbing all over him, so what follows doesn’t really make a lot of sense. First Faisal arranges the trip and takes three others with him on the trip. Then he tries to drug her repeatedly during the trip… in order to rape her while she’s unconscious? I honestly don’t know. In the end, due to the Hobo-Jinni’s interference, he ends up drugging himself with the date rape drug and falling asleep.
Meanwhile, the Hobo-Jinni takes matters into his own hands and starts wooing Fareela himself during the trip, even though he had been warned and threatened by Nimal not to do so. First, the Hobo-Jinni goes to the uninhabited island that Faisal plans to take Fareela and the gang to, and somehow gets rid of the caretaker of the island who is named Jinaa. It is not made clear whether the Hobo-Jinni kills the real Jinaa or not, but after stealing the real Jinaa’s red and black checkered shirt, he assumes his role and the real Jinaa is never seen of or heard from again. So while Faisal is sleeping off his own rape date drug, Jinaa sweeps Fareela off her feet with his quiet disposition and awkward conversation skills, which is mostly in the vein of “you won’t know it even if a jinni is sitting right next to” and “I could be a jinni and you wouldn’t know it.”
At this point it is somehow revealed, through the use of confusing flashbacks, that the evil black magician who had killed the Hobo-Jinni’s wife (who looks exactly like Fareela) in a previous scene is apparently in possession of a thaveedu/badi which he wears around his neck at all times which makes him immune to any kind of attack from a jinni. So the Hobo-Jinni is rendered helpless against him. Then the evil (but apparently extremely stupid) black magician boasts about his amazing thaveedhu/badi to Nimal (who may or may not be the Hobo-Jinni in disguise) and Nimal decides to steal it from the evil magician while he’s asleep, since this particular thaveedhu/badi apparently only works on jinni and he had taken no precautions against having it stolen in his sleep by a human (or a jinni posing as a human). Shortly after Nimal escapes with the thaveedhu/badi, the Hobo-Jinni confronts the evil magician and takes revenge on him for killing his wife.
Without the thaveedhu/badi, the evil magician is helpless and dies a painful death. Then the Hobo-Jinni for some reason heads over to Nimal and hands over the thaveedhu/badi to him, saying that it will give Nimal the power over Jinnis and that he will obey Nimal from now on. Yea, WTF eh? I’m confused. Who actually stole the thaveedhu/badi? (See *Note at bottom for more on this) Was it the Hobo-Jinni? But wasn’t it warded against him? If it was Nimal who stole it, then why did the Hobo-Jinni had it in his possession?
But that’s not all. Right after this the movie hits us with another big twist. Apparently the Hobo-Jinni didn’t really handover a genuine thaveedhu/badi to Nimal. He had handed over some junk trinket to Nimal to make him think he was in power even though he really wasn’t. So when Nimal tries to destroy the Hobo-Jinni, the Hobo-Jinni suddenly turns on his Batman-voice and says: “GHWAASYOOOSHTH? BFHHWWWLLDLDDJGWWW!!! GHHHD WHHHAIIFFFASSSSSHHHHBW HHHHIIIIISSNNNN?” Yea, I didn’t understand a word of that either. And then Nimal dies. And there’s cockroaches running over… well, in the air several inches above his face. This VFX shot is particularly bad and all the several different elements that make up the shot to make it look like the rotting corpse of Nimal’s face is overrun by cockroaches look like they are floating in front of one another even when not viewed in 3D. So why did the Hobo-Jinni do the voodoo on Fareela in the first place? He was under no compulsion to do so if the thaveedhu/badi was actually a fake. Perhaps he just wanted to keep the charade in place for some reason. Who knows how the minds of these Hobo-Jinnis work anyway.
After being unable to get in contact with Nimal, Faisal loses all hope of ever being able to win Fareela. However, his close friend advises him that if he can’t get Fareela in the time-honored traditional method of using black magic, then it was time to take her by force. So Faisal heads off to find Fareela to do just that. Fareela is meanwhile finding out some amazing things about Jinaa, whom she is now head over heels in love with. These amazing discoveries (which include the fact that Jinaa is not Jinaa but a Hobo-Jinni that has fallen in love with her because she looks exactly like his ex-wife, who may or may not be a jinni) doesn’t sit too well with her and he tells Jinaa to vamoose while she does some soul searching by herself. In a forest. In the dark.
That’s where Faisal finds her, presumably locating her by the clever use of GPS satellites, and decides to take what’s rightfully his by force, as is the other traditional Maldivian way. After failing to fight off the sex-crazed Faisal with a stick that she pokes at the camera and making the audience go cross-eyed, Fareela finally decides to call for supernatural backup.
And immediately Faisal finds himself on his back, thrown through the air and deposited unceremoniously on his ass about 20 feet away from Fareela. BAM! Instantly! Because, the Hobo-Jinni is that fast and powerful. Even after this amazing feat of strength and power, Faisal still has no clue that he’s fighting a supernatural being. Materializing in front of him and throwing him through the air like a raggedy doll wasn’t a convincing enough clue, apparently. So Faisal decides to trash-talk the Hobo-Jinni into backing down. When that fails, he picks up a kathivalhi that’s sticking out of tree branch nearby and throws it at the camera! He doesn’t throw it at the Hobo-Jinni; he throws it at the camera! The blade misses the Hobo-Jinni by several feet, passing harmlessly past him in slow motion as he looks at it soulfully. The blade flies through the air in super slow-motion… and buries itself in Fareela’s stomach at super fast speed. At this point it’s obvious that the Hobo-Jinni could have caught the blade in mid-air, or moved into its path and deflected the blade with any part of his body, or stop in mid flight, or even turn the blade into chicken feathers as it flies past him.
However, he does none of these. He just stands there, going through the totally unnecessary motions of attempting to look like he had coolly dodged the blade that wasn’t even going to hit him in the first place, so I’m assuming it was the Hobo-Jinni’s plan all along to have Faisal murder Fareela. But once the Hobo-Jinni notices the blade sticking out of Fareela’s belly, he turns towards Faisal and lets out a roar that would put Simba’s roar in The Lion King to shame. In fact, it probably was an enhanced version of that roar. Or maybe a dinosaur roar from Jurassic Park. Either way, this finally manages to put all the pieces of the puzzle together in Faisal’s head and he comes to the conclusion that this sweaty caretaker is no ordinary man. An ordinary man wouldn’t roar like a lion, surely! Right? Naturally, he makes a break for it while the Hobo-Jinni is cradling Fareela in his arms as she sobs and tells him she loves him… before dying.
Devastated by Fareela’s sudden and completely avoidable death, the Hobo-Jinni hunts down Faisal and kills him by heating him up and causing a layer of burning skin to appear several inches in front of his face… if you’re watching in 3D, that is. If you’ve closed one eye and are watching in glorious 2D, Faisal’s face starts burning and he dies a scorching death. And that’s it. There is one more scene where Reeko Moosa’s voice is heard asking some random girl on a beach at night what “Zoona” was doing all alone there. I’m guessing this scene is supposed to tie up with the beginning of the original Fathishandhuvaru. Although, that makes no sense either, since that’s not how it happened.
Anyway, the 3D headache aside, I had a great time watching this movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend it to everyone who loves watching Dhivehi movies. It’s definitely a step in some random direction for the local movie industry, but not necessarily a step in the right direction or even forward.
*Note: A reader of this blog and someone who had unfortunately suffered through the movie pointed out that the reason Nimal steals the thaveedhu/badi from the evil magician is on the request of the Hobo-Jinni. So this scene kind of makes scene. But honestly, I don't recall having seen that particular scene. Might have nodded off for a bit there. Apologies for the mistake.