“Is he crazy or is he drunk?” Asks Rosy (Dimple Kapadia).
“Both”; pat comes the reply.
The dialogue, pretty much sums up three of the characters in Finding Fanny; Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah), Rosy and Pedro (Pankuj Kapur).
This is not surprising, considering it’s a Homi Adajania film. His fondness for quirky characters from Goa, was first seen in his debut film,” Being Cyrus”.
The plot was slick and the twist was cool. It was also a rare off beat film with a mainstream hero, Saif, playing the lead.
The elements are similar in Finding Fanny. There’s superstar Deepika Padukone playing an unlikely, country girl from Goa, Angie. The curiosity factor of seeing her star in an English film (there’s also a Hindi version) and play second fiddle to a motley cast of veteran actors, is enough to generate interest.
It is not often one gets to see a Hindi film heroine kill a hen, cook it and casually wipe her hands across a cat’s furry back. Or lie covered in a lacy bra, on the grass next to her lover, Savio (Arjun Kapoor), telling him that she hopes the sex will get better with time. It is another matter that one doesn’t understand what she saw in him. But that too doesn’t make any difference because this is predominantly Ferdie’s love story. In fact, the entire track between the younger couple is like Feni without the fizz.
In the quaint Goan village, Poccolim, everyone’s life is an open book. So much so, that when Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah) cries and howls all night, the entire village wakes up. Ferdie is a postman who has never outgrown his choirboy life, dressed in white lacy and frilly long robe. He discovers, 46 years later, that his letter with a marriage proposal to Fanny (Anjali Patil) never got delivered. His tears of anguish over lost love and lost opportunities move Angie into organizing a road trip in the rustiest, old Dodge available.
The car belongs to a famous painter, Pedro (Pankaj Kapur) who also, like Ferdie is first seen, crying over the lack of inspiration or a muse. Anil Mehta’s camera work is at once artistic and funny in these introductory frames, particularly one which shows a blank canvas, with a red blurb of paint and the back of Pedro’s head. Mehta’s cinematography and a very slick edit plays a crucial role throughout, highlighting black humour involving a cat earlier and Pedro during a brake failure; two best moments in the film that make it worth a watch.
So five people and a cat set out in Pedro’s dirty blue car, to look for Ferdie’s love, Fanny. Pedro hopes to paint his big-bottomed muse, Rosy. Savio doesn’t need much convincing to drive them all. He has been in love with Angie all his life. The two have a past which involves his best friend, Ranveer Singh in a “short-lived appearance” as Angie’s groom who dies on his wedding day. As the film progresses, a few secrets come out. However, the buildup is as laid back as the sleepy village, for the revelations to have any dramatic effect.
The sequence that holds interest is a night of drunken merry, between Ferdie, Rosy and Pedro. The centre of attraction, predictably, is Rosy lying under a tree, her more than ample curves filling up the silver screen. Dimple’s performance here is sparkling and effortless while Naseeruddin and Pankuj flounder around.
All in all, it’s a trippy love ride with two lonely widows (the best mother-in-law and daughter-in-law dynamics), a jilted mechanic, an eccentric painter and a love lorn postman. Characters like these sound great on paper but the script has little else to offer. At times, the humour is forced, like Dimple’s skirt tearing as she bends, her prosthetic derriere being the camera’s idea of a joke.
The gorgeous middle-aged actress pulls it off with amazing alacrity and plays the grand widow of Goa to perfection. Deepika is all subtle sweetness and charm, displaying feistiness at the right moments. The women out shadow both Naseeruddin and Pankaj Kapur who are more theatrical in their comic acts. It’s remarkable however the way Naseeruddin makes his usual baritone, sound weak and frail in keeping with his character’s age. Arjun Kapoor remains ineffective and forgettable as the sulky lover.
Finding Fanny could have been a trippy ride but lacks sufficient adventure. It is only when the end credits roll that you might want to ‘shake your bootiya’.