As some folks may have heard me comment more than once lately, my patience is starting to wear very thin for films whose stories revolve solely around some (young) guys and whatever their challenge is, and the gals are secondary characters, when not simply window-dressing.
(This is why I couldn’t get myself to watch Kai Po Che in spite of all the good buzz around it, and why I would have passed on Ayan Mukherji’s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, had it not been for two good chums urging me not to discount it, as the roles for Deepika Padukone and Kalki Koechlin were fleshed out as much as of those of Ranbir and co.)
“Oh ho,” you may say, “if you’re bummed about the excess of youth-oriented, male-centric films on offer, then what, in the name of Nana Patekar in a loud floral shirt, are you doing at the deep end of the mainstream Indian movie pool?” Good question. Short answer, umm, I’m an optimist?
And I did think that my perceptions were not deceiving me as far as the US film industry’s portrayals of women were progressing, especially after this recent story in The Hollywood Reporter, until I saw the results of this study. Not too upbeat as far as those of us with the double XX chromosomes areconcerned, is it?
But I digress….
When I received the invite to an advance screening of Fukrey, based on having only seen the bobblehead poster, a voice inside my head said “Erm, no thanks,” but then I gave the trailer a dekko and my ears pricked up when I saw Richa Chadda as the tough-talking gangster Bholi Punjaban giving the boys what-for, and I thought “Hmm, ok, I’m intrigued by her and the film is produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar – let’s see how this turns out.”
(One thing I learned two summers back with Delhi Belly was to try and set aside any snap judgements. I feared it was going to be nothing but a bunch of dumb bros and puerile bathroom humor, but I went because it was a big release and an Aamir Khan film and hoped that might mean something worth watching, and I was so pleasantly surprised. Not only was it a zany caper with great music, it had a totally kickass, bindaas female character, played to perfection by Poorna Jagannathan.)
So this week, after seeing the Fukrey trailer and a bunch of guys fleeing down narrow city lanes, I went in to the theater expecting possibly a Delhi Belly-esque romp, and that was not the right frame of mind at all. This film does not have the manic energy that DB did.
Fukrey, also set in Delhi, is the story of two harmless but ne’er do well buddies, Hunny (Pulkit Samrat) and Choocha (Varun Sharma), who can’t get into college because of all their goofing around at school. Together with Lali (Manjot Singh), a young sardar in a similar bind, they devise a plan to borrow some money (from the aforementioned Bholi Punjaban) in order to make a big bet on a sure thing in a horse race and bankroll their
entry fees bribes.
Of course, it all goes for a toss and something ensues. I won’t say mayhem. (That would be Poorna Jagganathan and Imran Khan having mad, flayling, pretend sex under a quilt as they try to dodge some irate goondas.) A lot of sluggish pursuits and side-stories happen.
The trio of Hunny, Choocha and Lali are ok, not obnoxious and crude, but just not terribly compelling. There’s a fourth face on the poster – that of Ali Fazal (of 3 Idiots fame). He plays Zafar, a soulful, good-natured musician whose muse Neetu (Vishakha Singh) has escaped him, taking his inspiration with her, and he becomes involved with the betting plan because he needs to raise money for his father’s hospital bills, but no sooner has his handsome countenance been dangled before us, than he gradually recedes to the background.
Same with la Bholi Punjaban. She storms onto screen, brimming with fast, foul-talking energy, but like a Grucci firework, she’s barely caught your eye and burst into shimmery trails, then she’s gone.
Seriously, what a big tease you are Mr. Lamba – the two actors I would have loved to have seen more of and whose characters’ back stories I’d like to have known more about, and you took them away too soon.
I did enjoy most of the film’s songs, especially Kailash Kher’s expansive vocals on the very lively Karle Jugaad Karle (which also has a cute picturization) and Sona Mahapatra’s gorgeous voice on Ambarsariya.
If you’re a teenager or in your early 20s (or that’s where your mind or sensibilities have remained), you may find Fukrey to be a total laugh riot.
If you’re older than that – and can convince yourself before going in to not expect, or even allow, memories of Delhi Belly to float through your consciousness – then you may experience two hours of light entertainment.
All others, you may wish to walk on.
That said, I never saw Teen Thay Bhai, so for me, Fukrey is my first experience of the director’s work, and I saw enough promise here from Mrighdeep Singh Lamba that I’d check out his next film.