Saturday, September 13, 2014

Finding Fanny 

Dial Q for Quirk

The word being used by almost everyone to describe Homi Adajania’s Finding Fanny, is quirky.  It is wonder that in today’s box-office obsessed times, it was possible for such a film to be made.

But then, if Adajania was going to be cocking a snook at Bollywood, he should have gone all the way, and made a truly quirky film with no compromises. No stars, no literalness, no neatly tied-up bows at the end. The search for Fanny could well have been spiritual or metaphorical, or just whimsical. Could the urban multiplex viewer, at whom this film is aimed, not been able to take a bit of disappointment, a small tragedy, or an open end? Alas, the intelligence of the film festival frequenting informed viewer will never be tested by Bollywood cinema. 

It starts off charmingly enough, in a Goan village called Pocolim (lovingly shot by Anil Mehta), which as the narrator Angie (Deepika Padukone) says, is a “puppet show as large as a village.” It is so tiny that it can’t be found on the map, but the two women in it have the latest in fashion, eyewear and lingerie? Ah well!
Anyway, a yellowing, age-crumpled letter is slipped under the door of the postman Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah), who in old age is still a church choir boy. The letter was his proposal to the love of his life, Stephanie “Fanny” Fernandes, that was never delivered. He lived for 46 heartbroken years, believing she had rejected him.

Now his friend Angie, decides he must go find Fanny, because “no one deserves an incomplete love story.”  Angie has had a tragedy of her own; her husband (Ranveer Singh) died on his wedding day, having choked on the plastic cake figurine. Now she lives with her corpulent mother-in-law Rosie (Dimple Kapadia), whose sharp tongue and bossiness hide a sad past.  A randy artist, Don Pedro (Pankaj Kapur) sees Rosie as a muse for his last masterwork. Angie’s jilted suitor Savio (Arjun Kapoor) has returned to Goa after many years in Mumbai. This odd bunch, and Rosie’s narcoleptic cat, get into a battered old jalopy in search of Fanny.

It is obvious all of them will return from the bumpy ride as different people. Just how that happens is what the film is about, and though it delivers some quirky (there, the word) humour, endearing characters, and feel of European or Latin American cinema, you don’t come out it either shaken or stirred, because the stock of whimsy runs out midway.

None of the actors get the Goan accent right, but they play their parts well—particularly Dimple Kapadia, who brings out the pathos and absurdity of Rosie, without once hitting the wrong note.


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