Film: “Fanney Khan”; Director: Atul Manjrekar; Starring: Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Rajkummar Rao, Divya Dutta, Pihu Sand, Girish Kulkarni; Rating: *** (3 and half stars)
Tucked away somewhere in this father-daughter heartwarmer, is a story about Baby Singh, a lonely exploited pop singer played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan whose manager (played with splendid sliminess by Girish Kulkarni) suggests that she do some quick wardrobe malfunction on the ramp to attract attention.
As if malfunction was a bonafide function on the religious calendar.
Aishwarya, God bless her pristine soul, does what any decent girl would. She asks the slimeball to drop her off on the road. Huffing and puffing she hops into a taxi being driven by none other than our ‘Fanney Khan’ a wannabe Mohd Rafi who wants to make his oversized daughter another Lata Mangeshkar.
Cheers to that. The basic thought behind the film is clever and emotionally resplendent. But then why not the songs of the nightingale instead of the absurd music that carpets the crisis.
But then the failed Rafi a.k.a Fanney decides to kidnap the singing diva Baby Singh with the help of a friend (Rajkummar Rao) who promptly falls in love with her.
While Fanney grapples with the singing career of his under-talented oversized obnoxious daughter (the contempt that Pihu Sand puts in her voice and demeanour when talking to her naive goodhearted father made me cringe) Baby and Baba (that’s Adhir, Rajkummar Rao) romance in a rush of ransom resplendence.
If you’ve seen the Belgian original “Everybody’s Famous”, you’d know that plausibility was never a prime consideration in the plot. The remake hovers uneasily between the precocious and authentic, drawing inspiration from the struggles of everyday life in a dream-driven chawl, but pinning the to situations that are at once absurd and audacious.
It helps that Anil Kapoor is a natural as a caring doting father, and Divya Dutta as his wife looks every inch of the middle-class Maharashtrian housewife and mother. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is every bit the pampered diva who treats the besotted kidnapper (Rajkummar Rao) like her pet poodle.
All this would have qualified as a satire on middle-cass yearnings. But the joke on the Stockholm Syndrome would probably not work even in Denmark.
What works is the film’s integrity, its intentions are fully bonafide. The daughter’s ridicule at a musical reality show has a ring of truth about it.So does the furious disdain the daughter shows towards her father.
Eventually if you sit through the ordeal of watching Rajkummar Rao romance the stunning Ms Rai Bachcchan in an abandoned industrial factory with only her pet dog for company, ‘Fanney Khan’ is a heartwarming ode to life, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd Rafi and Sheila Ki Jawani. Effervescent and emotional, it is an effective antidote to the pain of existence.
(Subhash K Jha can be contacted at [email protected])