Finding Fanny** 1/2
Dir: Homi Adajania
Starring: Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kapoor, Pankaj Kapur
Homi Adajania’s debut film was the off-beat but not entirely successful Being Cyrus. He now returns to his roots after his foray into commercial cinema (the enjoyable Cocktail) with Finding Fanny, a quirky road movie set somewhere in the backwaters of Goa and featuring a quintet of wacky characters. Naseeruddin Shah is Ferdie, the village postman pining for his lost love; Dimple Kapadia is Rosie, a widow of Ruben-esque proportions who lives with her young, widowed daughter-in-law, Angie (Deepika Padukone); Pankaj Kapur is Don Pedro, a famous painter seeking fresh inspiration in Rosie’s ample bottom; and Arjun Kapoor is Savio, recently returned to the village, and seeking to rekindle some sort of relationship with lost-love Angie. Prompted by the sudden reappearance of an undelivered letter that Ferdie had written decades ago to the object of his affections, the five go off in search of Ferdie’s never-forgotten love and the movie chronicles their adventures while on the road.
The performances are all fine with Naseeruddin Shah and Dimple Kapadia leading the way. Shah delivers an unmannered and quietly touching turn and Dimple Kapadia is also surprisingly good. I have usually found her to be an annoying and distracting presence in most movies, an actress too aware of her own presence, too busy being the Dimple Kapadia rather than the character she is supposed to be. But in Adajania she seems to have found a director who can actually make her act – she’s been very good in all three of his movies. Padukone, Kapur and Kapoor all deliver the goods as well. It is not the performances that are the problem but the movie’s script.
Fanny is never really boring (and there are indeed some amusing and surprising moments) and with only a 100-minute or so running length it doesn’t overstay its welcome either. But the movie also doesn’t prove to be quite as whimsical or as funny or as insightful as it so very much wants to be and sometimes the strain shows – witness the scene involving an Russian émigré, for example. For a lesson on how to do it right, watch Wes Anderson’s brilliant The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Cut to chase: Charming and whimsical but prosaic and banal in equal measure.
Dir: Vikram Bhatt
Starring: Bipasha Basu, Imran Abbas, Mukul Dev
Vikram Bhatt really needed to study up on his monster horror thrillers before starting work on his latest middling-budget feature. If he had taken another look at movies like Jaws or Alien he would have understood that, often, less is more. Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott ratcheted up the tension before giving us a good look at their monsters and Jacques Torneur was even more frugal with the original Cat People, letting the audience’s imagination and the use of shadows overcome any limitations of budget and special effects. But Bhatt wastes no time in letting us have a good long look at his creature and after that it’s basically a lost cause because the monstrous killer terrorising a remote hilly resort is a bit laughable in the flesh, bringing to mind such 1950s low-budget Hollywood monsters like The Creature Fom The Black Lagoon (but with slightly better CGI-animation). The creature’s incessant but insipid roaring also induces giggles rather than any sort of fear and the unnecessary and unmemorable songs break up whatever limited amount of tension or atmosphere that may have been present. The movie should have had at least 30 minutes cut from its running length to have had any shot at maintaining some kind of interest.
Bipasha Basu is the boutique hotel owner battling her own inner demons as well as the monster. She looks fine (better than she has in some of her other recent movies) but she’s no Sigourney Weaver in Alien either, even when she takes matters into her own hands and picks up a gun. Mukul Dev is that horror movie standard, the monster hunter who gives the heroes and the audience the low-down on the origins of the supernatural beast and how to go about killing it. And then there’s our own Imran Abbas, who’s basically got the damsel-in-distress role as he assists Bipasha in hunting down the creature.
Poor Imran Abbas. Reportedly, he was offered Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela but couldn’t sign on the dotted line for certain contractual reasons. Not that I am a Bhansali admirer (far from it, in fact) but his desi version of Romeo And Juliet would have been a much better showcase for our television lad’s Mollywood debut than Vikram Bhatt’s creature feature. Imran looks good but gets no opportunity to actually emote and is basically reduced to making googly eyes at the gun-toting heroine. As a result, his cinematic adventure across the border is more likely to be cut short than not (though I do hope he gets a few more chances to prove himself). The lesson to be learnt for our actors and actresses wanting to work in Mollywood is to be a bit more careful when choosing their debut projects – it’s all in the script, ladies and gentlemen, it’s all in the script.
Cut to chase: Laughably bad. Avoid.