Movie Review: Finding Fanny

September 12, 2014

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

In Homi Adajania’s version of Goa, there are winding pathways, crumbling mansions, and the sleepy village of Pocolim where “life doesn’t pass you by, it passes you by at the pace you want it to.”

There is an oddball cast of characters to add to the picturesque location, and some lovely lines. The setting is perfect for a road movie with quirky characters, but Adajania’s film falters for want of a strong premise and its inability to see these characters and their story to some sort of a rightful conclusion.

There is Angie (Deepika Padukone), a young widow who lives with her rather crabby mother-in-law Rosie (Dimple Kapadia) and a cat named Nareus. Angie is friends with Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah), a lonely old man who pines for the love of his life – a woman who he thinks turned him down. Thanks to the chance discovery of a decades-old letter, he finds that this isn’t the case. Angie insists that they must find Fanny and achieve closure. No one, she tells Ferdie, deserves an incomplete love story.

Angie enlists the help of Savio (Arjun Kapoor), her one-time friend, who fell in love with her but left the village after she married another man. Back in Pocolim after six years, Savio spends his time rifling through his ancestral home and looking longingly at Angie’s long legs as she passes him by. Angie decides she needs Savio’s old car for the road trip, but since the car has been sold to local artist Don Pedro (Pankaj Kapoor), they both also come along for the ride.

Now, as any Goan would tell you, nowhere in Goa takes more than three or four hours to get to. Which means there’s no reason for the trip to take an entire day and night. Also, no one speaks such perfect English in Goan villages, and the Konkani the characters speak is nowhere close to the actual language. But given that the film itself isn’t too concerned with mundane details like authenticity, and is set in a dream-like world, these mistakes can be overlooked.

Even if you accept the film’s almost fairy-tale setting, it is still difficult to reconcile with the flimsy premise and its hurried conclusion. There are plenty of clever lines, some lovely cinematography (Anil Mehta) and Kapadia’s spirited performance as Rosie that redeems “Finding Fanny”, but it also leaves you wanting more.

Angie and Savio’s romance is dealt with in a superficial way, while Ferdie’s character and his search for Fanny begins well but gets lost somewhere in the second half. Ferdie is missing for much of the later part, sauntering in and out like a forgotten character.

But the performances are superb and everyone plays their parts well. If you had to pick one though, it would have to be Kapadia’s. As Rosie – sometimes irritable, sometimes sad, but always feisty – she’s the character that stays with you long after the film ends.

“Finding Fanny”, for all its flaws, is a rarity in Bollywood. A not-too-long English film with characters you would not find easily. If only Adajania had the courage to go all the way and tell the full story of these five characters, it would have been a great film.

(Follow Shilpa on Twitter at @shilpajay. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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