Fanney Khan review: Starcast alone can't make a film shine
After the heavy 'message'-dropping of Mulk, there was space to lighten the theatre-goers' mood. And that wasn't the only thing in Fanney Khan's favour: A story that has already made its mark, a fresh director backed by an experienced producer, A taented bunch of actors and stars to prep up a newcomer, an award... the ground was set for something fresh and entertaining. Instead, what we have is another wasted opportunity in another Bollywood film.
Debutant Atul Manjrekrar's Fanney Khan is an official remake of the Dutch-Belgian Everybody's Famous (2000), which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2001 – a year before Lagaan made the cut. That's enough time to come up with a good screenplay (Manjrekar, and Husain and Abbas Dalal) if you really really want to remake a film so much as producer Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra reportedly was.
Instead, Fanney Khan seems to be written for a grand finale climax and to fill up the screen with yesteryear superstar Anil Kapoor – the Fanney Khan aka Prashant Sharma, an 'orchestra' singer-turned-blue-collar worker who wants his daughter Lata (debutant Pihu Sand) to live his dream of becoming a singer. Oh, and in Mumbai he speaks a dialect that sounds Hyderabadi. Whatever.
The point is his struggle, his daughter's weight issues and disdain for him (because he is a loser), his weird kidnapping of the reigning pop diva (Aishwarya Rai) and the eventual resolution to the script's crisis could all have been combined to make a whacky, even satirical, movie. It could have been fun. Instead, it feels long at 2 hours and 9 minutes. The original was a good half an hour shorter.
Perhaps, Manjrekar and Mehra thought the Hindi audience would need more value for their buck. Instead they provide more Kapoor – Kapoor's back story, Kapoor in low-angle, Kapoor in close-up, Kapoor from a distance. Even Kapoor himself can't carry himself so much. Despite several good shots, at times it is him – not the character he plays – that comes out jaded.
Most of the other actors too, including Divya Dutta and Rajkumar Rao as Fanney's wife and friend, Rai, Sand and even Satish Kaushik in a cameo tried to make their parts work. But the screenplay hardly provided any glue for them to keep things together. At least it was good to see Rai onscreen after quite a while, but you will wonder why Rao took this project up? To romance Rai? Girish Kulkarni, as the main antagonist, let go of a good chance to raise his bar.
Not that the film doesn't have its moments though: Kapoor playing his trumpet on his terrace, Dutta's little nuances, a funny use of Rajinikanth, and especially the climax, which manages to hold itself together despite being a mismash of things. Being a mishmash actually runs through the film and at times it feels the makers have taken too big a bite.
Music (Amit Trivedi, Tanish Bagchi), being integral to the film, isn't thankfully a let down; it's not mindblowing either. Camerawork (Tirru) is average and again a waste of a chance to do more. The editor (Monisha Baldawa) has also not helped much in making the film tighter.
Hopefully the next time Mehra is kicked about a story, he would get it written better instead of simply putting a starcast together.