As I walked out of Fukrey Returns, one of the things that bothered me more than the money I had spent on the film was a disclaimer. It read ‘No animals or Changu or Mangu were harmed during the making of this film’. Changu and Mangu are two African characters from the film. And needless to say, they are there to be at the receiving end of some racist jokes. They mouth broken Hindi and are called “rakshas” with unrestrained glee by the lead characters.
All that is missing is the quintessential jhingalala scene.
But then as regular consumers of Bollywood masala, we are used to such casual racism. From the howler scene in Fashion where Priyanka Chopra’s fall from grace is equated with her sleeping with a dark-skinned man to Nigerians being portrayed as drug-dealers in films like Kaminey and Dum Maro Dum, we have consumed it all.
But what got my goat was how insensitively the merciless thrashing of Nigerians in Noida was referred to in the disclaimer.
You can read more about the mob assault of Nigerian youths here.
It’s shameful that a movie which is better and smarter than this has to resort to an unnecessary racist jibe like this. If we’re okay with this then what right do we have to give a stinky-eye to Indians being stereotypes in the West?
I’m disappointed because a part of me really wanted to like the movie. As someone who grew up watching the Oceans series and Guy Ritchie’s earlier film, Fukrey Returns has the look and the feel of a crime caper. It manages to draw up interesting characters. Varun Sharma’s disarming, child-like Choocha is a character that stays with you. As a social commentary, the film uses corrupt politicians and political scams as a crutch to make some important points. But with this careless jibe at African residents in India, the film loses any higher ground to preach.
Fukrey Returns, apart from allowing glaring contrivances, also criminally underutilises its cast. Both Pankaj Tripathi and Ali Fazal sleepwalk through their roles. Pulkit Samrat, on the other hand, waltzes around with the residual swagger he probably absorbed from Salman Khan.
Come to think of it. Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s largely inoffensive and well-intentioned film from 2013, didn’t deserve a sequel. Fukrey was designed to be a laugh-a-minute; Fukrey Returns tries to manipulate the audience into giving in. Just like that friend who asks for a stupid favour and then counters your lack of response with ‘Bhai nahi hai’?
Nope. Sorry. Can’t endorse the casual racism.