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Indian filmmaker Homi Adajania clearly doesn’t follow the Bollywood playbook. His latest feature contains no musical numbers (save for an end credit throwaway); maintains a fairly consistent tone throughout; doesn’t run a marathon length; and is in English, with subtitles for those unable to decipher the accents. Unfortunately, he’s replaced the familiar conventions with a forced quirkiness that resembles American indie comedies at their worst. Despite its cast of Indian film veterans including venerable Bollywood star Dimple Kapadia, Finding Fanny quickly loses its way.
The story revolves around a road trip undertaken by five residents of a sleepy village in Goa after local postman Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah) finds a letter mysteriously returned to him that he sent decades ago to his beloved Fanny. Assuming that her lack of a reply to his marriage proposal meant that she had found someone else, he’s been pining for her ever since.
Getting wind of the situation is the young Angie (Deepika Padukone), who’s had no small amount of romantic heartbreak herself having become a widow on her wedding day when the groom had an unfortunate accident involving the wedding cake. She decides to organize a road trip in an attempt to reunite Ferdie with his lost love. Trailing along are her former mother-in-law, the imperious Rosie (Kapadia, humiliatingly outfitted with a massively padded posterior for would-be comic effect); lecherous artist Don Pedro (Pankaj Kapur), who happens to have a thing for big-bottomed women; and Savio (Arjun Kapoor), Angie’s childhood friend who’s still bitterly resentful over her having chosen someone else to marry.
Hilarity does not ensue during the resulting farcical proceedings, accompanied by an overbearing musical score and including mordant gags involving two corpses — one feline and one human — that make Weekend at Bernie’s seem sophisticated by comparison. The younger performers are pretty but bland, while the Bollywood veterans mug unmercifully in a hopeless attempt to wring laughs from the strained material. There’s also a profusion of bromides about the perpetual quest for love that fail to deliver the intended poeticism. Much like the rusty jalopy in which the characters make their journey, Finding Fanny delivers a very bumpy ride.
Production: Illuminati Films, Haddock Films
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kappor, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Pankaj Kapoor
Director: Homi Adajania
Screenwriters: Homi Adajania, Kersi Khambatta
Producer: Dinesh Vijan
Director of photography: Anil Mehta
Editor: Sreekar Prasad
Production designer: Manisha Khandelwal
Costume designer: Anaita Shroff Adajania
Composer: Mathias Duplessy
No rating, 93 min.
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