Fanney Khan (2018) Review!!!

Synopsis – Fanney Khan is a struggling singer who wants to make his daughter a big name in music world.

My Take – It’s an open fact that the Indian audience really enjoys the rags to riches story line, and knowing that Bollywood filmmakers keep packaging them in different covers, and when it’s done well, they strike gold. This new packing takes us through a similar journey from the angle of a father who goes to various lengths to encourage his daughter to become a star singer. With a cast comprising of the evergreen Anil Kapoor, the bewitching Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and the effervescent Rajkummar Rao, this film adapted from the 2001 Belgian film ‘Everybody’s Famous!’, an Oscar nominated film, had pretty high expectations as it told a relate able story of hopes, dreams and an untold relationship between a father and his daughter.

Unfortunately, this film which also marks the directorial debut of Atul Manjrekar is nothing but a snooze-fest. While the film does start on a high note and has its moments of glory, the writing, dialogues and shoddy editing along with some directing inconsistencies, makes less room for any form of entertainment. If only the director had resisted the urge to insert cliched characters, debatable messaging, and over-the-top melodrama this film would have been an out-and-out winner.

The story follows Prashant Sharma aka Fanney Khan (Anil Kapoor), a former orchestra singer, who now works as a small-time factory worker, who lives a humble life with his supportive wife, Kavita (Divya Dutta), and teenage daughter Lata (Pihu Sand). While he has a minimal income, Prashant wishes to oversee that his daughter is able to fulfill her dream of becoming an accomplished singer, despite her brattish behavior towards him. She, however, is made fun of due to her weight and is frustrated because of that.

When Prashant loses his job at the factory and Lata is nowhere close to getting a break in the singing world, all their dreams seem to have fallen apart. But a chance encounter with Baby Singh (Aishwarya Rai), a glamorous pop singer and national phenomenon, who Lata also idolizes, presents Prashant with an opportunity to get his dreams back on track. He kidnaps the singer for ransom with the help of his friend Adhir (Rajkummar Rao) and phones Baby’s cunning manager Kakkar (Girish Kulkarni) not seeking ransom but to listen to his tune on a pen-drive and use Lata to get it professionally recorded. Meanwhile, Baby, sick of people who look on her as a money-spinning machine, gets friendly with Adhir, who looks after her, and realizes that they are not regular criminals.

The aftermath are among the most ridiculous things we get to see in a film like this. In a way, this is the reverse of last year’s Secret Superstar in which the father was the obstacle to his daughter’s aspirations, but missing the credibility. While the film could have worked as a satire, but by the time the police spontaneously applaud a man they have every reason to believe is holding a hostage, the film has given up any shred of plausibility. Atul Manjrekar‘s direction could have been better and that in turn would have made the film better. There’s no doubt that he handled some scenes exceptionally well. The film starts off with promise, raising important questions about our obsession with being famous and the pressure to follow the “ideal” beauty standards.

But in the urgency to shine and make a grand statement about a father’s love for his daughter, melodrama takes center stage and the film never quite manages to recover. While the original film was said to be shorter and gained acclaim for its dark comedy, thereby maximizing impact, this film on the other hand moves at its own pace and is too melodramatic. While this may work for some, others might find it unconvincing. There are so many things wrong with the film, it’s hard to decide where to start. The relationship between Lata and her father is bizarre. I get it most teenagers aren’t fans of their parents, there is a general acceptance of this. But no one hates their parent with a passion unless there is clear motive. Here, Latta is so bitter towards her father, you feel sad for him, but without reason, so while there is sympathy, one is confused and soon distracted. Perhaps as a pay back, the universe hates her, even people in position of power and responsibility are just outright nasty to her.

The problem here lies with the execution, as a viewer, there are so many questions that come to your mind that 20 minutes into the film, and you just stop caring about the proceedings. Why does Prashant have a Hyderabadi twang? How can a taxi driver lock a pop icon down in a factory for days without anyone noticing it? Did Baby Singh carry her L’Oréal kit even when she was kept in confinement? The ridiculous plot, which intertwines the kidnapping and a live talent show, is impossible to buy.

I get it, to have emotionally charged moments throughout the film is a tough ask but here director Manjrekar, using suggestive background music forces us to become teary. These characters, also go on to perform some absurd acts in the name of love and friendship. The last 40 minutes of this 130-minute film undoes all the promise it shows before. The absurdities and illogicality pile on to unacceptable extents. Not that the first half is perfect. What happens, for example, when a still furious kidnap victim wants to go to the loo is not shown. The hotel bedroom sequence of Lata and the manager makes no sense whatsoever. The recording room sequence emerges as a simplistic joke, and we cannot make out how Adhir and Sumitra get in and out at will, and no one even recognizes such a well-known face in public! Last but not least, a live coverage on television is done at night with a message from someone sitting at that very moment in Kashmir – in broad daylight!

Also, what might at one time have passed off as a comical kidnapping ends up a little queasy in the era of #MeToo – another woman drugged and held hostage by a stranger. An emotionally adept actor could have suggested these notes while staying true the comic demands of the script (Manjrekar and his co-writers Hussain Dalal and Abbas Dalal make a clumsy attempt, having Adhir, tell Baby that they won’t rape her). But Baby doesn’t look particularly angry when she wakes up blindfolded and tied to a chair in an abandoned factory and learns that she’s being held for ransom. Rai is too unruffled a screen presence to convincingly sell the kind of silliness this film requires – for instance, the scene where she rubs herself on a panicked Adhir before sending him out to pick up her dog (this way he’ll smell her on him). I was more interested in the evolving dynamics between Adhir and Baby, but the script only flirted with it before brushing aside that track. Adhir is in charge of guarding Baby, which results in a next-level Stockholm syndrome. It also throws up the most entertaining moments.

The climax unfolds during a reality show. Fairy tales are well and good, but the melodrama combined with the stupidity of the protagonist makes some scenes unbearable. Besides feeling sorry about body shaming, the final message seemed to be that it’s all right to break the law and orchestrate a huge deception in order to give your child a shortcut to fame. Whatever happened to hard work, dedication, perseverance and self-belief? The film is miles from being good and is proof that talent alone, cannot hold a film together, whether it’s the hackneyed script and dialogues or the music, the film falters one minute after another, and nosedives into mediocrity. However, what works is the film’s integrity, its intentions are fully bonafide and of course the performances. The daughter’s ridicule at a musical reality show has a ring of truth about it.

Here, Anil Kapoor is himself and very relatable. He is never out of his comfort zone and at times he does seem to be a bit over the top. The emotional scenes work thanks to him. One can feel his pain and one can’t help but hoot for him even when one knows that what he did isn’t right. Aishwarya Rai looks ravishing and delivers an energetic performance. She is a sheer treat to watch when she shares screen space with Rajkummar Rao who is brilliant as Adhir. Girish Kulkarni is a peculiar casting choice. As Baby’s manager, Kakkad, he is unable to rock the spiked hair, and with the additional accessory of light contact lenses, he’s just creepy. Divya Dutta as his wife is equally affecting, while Pihu Sand seems a bit irritating at places but she makes up for it with her touching performance in the climax. Satish Kaushik has an interesting part but is wasted. On the whole, ‘Fanney Khan‘ has well-meaning intentions but is letdown by its lazy execution and melodramatic overtones.

Directed – Atul Manjrekar

Starring – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao

Rated – PG13

Run Time – 130 minutes

One response to “Fanney Khan (2018) Review!!!

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Worst Bollywood Films of 2018 – A MovizArk Take!!! | Welcome to Moviz Ark!·

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