Sunday, 14 September 2014

A bum-py Ride : My Review Finding Fanny (English)

Director  Homi Adajania

Starring   Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapur, Dimple Kapadia, Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kapoor

Written by  Homi Adajania, Kersi Khambatta

Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah) holds a love letter he had sent to Fanny Fernandes, returned undelivered to him after 46 years. His scream of anguish at this poor joke played on him by fate wakes up the entire sleepy little Goan village of Pocolim. You smile, the premise is set, you know you are in for a whimsical ride.

Angie (Deepika), Rosie (Dimple), Don Pedro and Savio (Arjun) are introduced to you as your partners on this journey to find Fanny, so that Ferdie can finally know what Fanny would have said if she had read his letter of proposal decades ago.

The characters are etched in detail, but that doesn't make them perfect. A sweet angelic young widow, a sharp tongued, extra curvaceous mother in law who rules over her village roost, a famous painter who uses his lingering gaze to see through the clothes of his amply endowed female muses, a disillusioned loser with a broken heart and the bumbling, innocent choir head looking for his lost love.

The film should have been in Konkani, which of course is my pipedream, but at least a more "goan" language would have worked better, such is the ambience, the susegad, captured so well. But alas, it is in English, and a smattering of local dialect. Now English mind you, is not a problem for the cast, but Goan English, oh, that is a different bird which they haven't been able to catch. An occasional "mins what" doesn't suffice. The biggest sufferer is of course Mr. Pankaj Kapoor whose Punjabi accent made me wait for "Pencho Pencho" to happen any moment. What I love in other movies of this phenomenal actor, when pitched as Don Pedro, becomes a bit of a sore point.

The story is not what drives this film, it is the journey. The film uses various philosophies and metaphors as the characters are unravelled, layer by layer, their minds laid bare, their secrets revealed.

Homi has managed to infuse a kind of freshness, a bonhomie, a camaraderie, frenemity between his five characters, which is a big plus. It is such a pleasure to watch Naseer and Pankaj vie to outdo each other. Naseer wins, as he puts his body language, eyes, smile and that hesitation in speech to create a memorable Ferdie. Pankaj has some really tongue in cheek lines, and he enjoys playing the lusty painter to the hilt. "God should have left me with the task to create women" he says , with a twinkle in his eyes.

Deepika is a mellow breeze in the film, making acting look effortless, playing the virgin widow with a heart of gold yet a yearning in her heart well.

Arjun Kapoor is still patchy in his deliveries, shining in some moments, lacklustre in others. His Savio is quite likeable though.

Coming to Madame Kapadia, not a brilliant actress, even a ham at places, made up for it here with her enthusiasm and hunger to do a good job. With a fake xxxl fanny, she is spirited, free with her act, creating a character on screen you end up having a love-hate relationship with. Only she could have carried the line "Spread my legs" with such coolth. At a crucial point in the film when Don Pedro speaks to her after finally painting her portrait, I wanted to hug her.

So with these characters different from each other, yet not so different, Homi touches upon a lot of themes, loneliness, love, desire, fate and fulfilment. What is the end to our efforts, and do efforts lead to an end we thought we deserve...

Finding Fanny attempts at the quirkiness of films like Amelie, the interpersonal relationships and unfolding of emotions and secrets of Les Petits Mouchoirs (Little White Lies), Homi seems to be heavily influenced by the irreverent European comedies. But the biggest is the doff to Wes Anderson.

The film has its moments, taking you through the hitherto unseen side of Goa, which is not beaches, rave parties or an old bearded priest, which are staples of many a films shot there. It is a road trip replete with hilarious going ons, including a dead cat nestling in Dimple's bosom. Here I must mention that the Cinematography by Anil Mehta works magic.

But there is a feeling of emptiness at the end of it all. That is the problem beleaguering this film. I am not left with a sense of fulfilment, a part of the journey, I am left craving for more. The writing, inspired in some places and totally flat in others is the main culprit here, specially in the second hour of the film.

To me, Finding Fanny is like the first batch of a new wine, the best grapes have gone in, it has been worked with passion, the aroma as the bottle opens is promising, the color lovely, but slowly as you sip, twirl it in your mouth and gulp, you feel it doesn't do anything more, it doesn't quite hit the sweet spot, and while you may continue to enjoy the flavor, you know you will not be satisfied. This wine could have been better.

Watch it for its quirkiness and some fine acting by Naseer and Pankaj.  And Homi, you are getting there.

My Verdict : 2.5/5

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