Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Pankaj Kapur, Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kapoor
Directed by Homi Adjania
Homi Adjania sets the tongue-in-cheek tone for Finding Fanny right at the start, with the disclaimer itself. It states that parts of the story are true and those are the ones which are the strangest. After the mainstream detour he took with Cocktail, Adjania goes back to his familiar, oddball zone, the one we witnessed in his delightful debut film, Being Cyrus.
He takes us away from the sand, beaches and shacks of Goa to its quiet, lovely interiors, setting the story in the fictional, sleepy Pocolim village where “everyone’s business is also everybody else’s business”. It’s a world of quirky characters that we rarely get to see in Bollywood. Each one, right down to the kooky kitty, is weird. The film is narrated by Angie (Deepika), who became a widow the day she got married. She lives with her shrill mom-in-law Rosie (Dimple), herself a widow. Don Pedro is a painter who loves curvy women and fetishises them in his work. No wonder, he has an eye for the well-endowed Rosie.
Meanwhile, Angie’s childhood friend Savio nurses a broken heart for her. Lastly, there’s the postmaster Ferdie (Naseer), who gets no letters himself, but suddenly finds the world turn upside down when he does he get one. A letter he wrote to his ladylove, Fanny, 46 years ago, which comes back to him and forces him to embark on a journey to find her, with these four dysfunctional people for company. While Dimple and Pankaj get way too hammy, Naseer gets a bit hemmed in. Arjun is in good shape till the awkward outburst towards the end. It is the incandescent, vulnerable and assured Deepika who is at her winsome best.
Adjania keeps it pithy. If the characters seem to come straight out of Mario Miranda cartoons, the telling seems to have taken a page out of Amelie. Anil Mehta’s camera paints fluid images and the spoken word keeps alternating between the dreamy (“He could never tell a story unless the story came looking for him”) and the smart and sharp. For a change, the broken Goan English with the generous helpings of Konkani (subtitled, of course) doesn’t sound stilted.
Finding Fanny is all about lost love. Its characters may seem a bizarre bunch, but their search for love is conventional. In fact, it’s the seemingly ‘normal’ Angie who, perhaps, is the most out-of-the-box when it eventually comes to seeking out and embracing love. It’s this sense of whimsicality and romance within the absurd and a simultaneous assertion of the ludicrosity of romance that I found most interesting. However, instead of dwelling more on this delicious dichotomy, the film goes deliberately overboard on the kinkiness and becomes over-indulgent with the loudness and farce. It entertained while it lasted but hasn’t stayed on with me for long.