If you’re into tasteless food analogies, Fanney Khan is like the last dregs of coffee in a poorly designed jar. Looks inviting from afar, but once you’ve maneuvered your spoon in, it turns out to be nothing but a sticky mess you could have easily lived without.
Atul Manjrekar’s adaptation of Dominique Deruddere’s Everybody’s Famous! follows the plot of the original, but packs in so much Hindi TV serial-ish melodrama, you end up feeling sorry that it’s labelled as an official remake. Starring Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Rajkummar Rao, Pihu Sand and Divya Dutta, Fanney Khan is the story of a father (Kapoor) who literally goes above and beyond to ensure that his daughter fulfills her (and his) dreams of becoming a musical sensation. ‘Convoluted and half-baked’ aren’t just words that describe Fanney Khan’s kidnapping scheme; they also perfectly summarize the film’s flakey screenplay.
The film attempts to raise several issues, but unfortunately abandons them mid-way, one after another, in pursuit of something else. They had an excellent opening to talk about the insidious, corrosive world of reality shows when Baby Singh, played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, is told she needs to have a wardrobe malfunction to keep the TRP-hungry producer of a talent show happy. But they let it slide by without fuss or comment.
A recurring theme in the film is Pihu Sand, who plays the ill-humoured musical prodigy Lata, leaving several talent shows mid-way after being fat-shamed. Think we’re going to address the massive pressure of adhering to a body-type in order to be successful in showbiz? Yeah. Not today, Satan. Not today.
Flawed though Fanney Khan might be, Anil Kapoor is still effortlessly loveable as the father who’d do anything to see his daughter become a famous singer. Divya Dutta, who plays his wife, isn’t exactly relegated to the sidelines, but there still isn’t much for her to do but simply be there; first for her husband and then for her daughter. Pihu Sand nails playing a character that’s hard to like and harder to root for, and in the end, you do cheer for her.
Rajkummar Rao, as the henpecked boyfriend slash comic relief slash love interest of Rai-Bachchan makes for a fun watch while it lasts, but his role, just like the film’s plot, falls short of expectations. But it is Aishwarya, who plays the beautiful, glamorous but lonely Baby Singh, who you will remember with admiration and fondness as you leave the theatre. For if it wasn’t for her, you would have never learned that it is possible to overact even being tied to a chair.
Fanney Khan would have been a fun film, if not for it’s overly long run-time (two hours that feel like five), its unmemorable music (hey Amit Trivedi, what’s good?), and an overly-dramatic second half that caricatures reality shows to a point where it ends up caricaturing itself.
Movie-goers ke ache din kab aayenge?