Fanney Good Baaki Sab Unfanney
A father loves his daughter so much, is so in love with the idea of making her the next Indian Singing Star that he kidnaps the current superstar in order to get her a place in the contest. The film is based on a story from a Dutch film ‘Everybody is Famous’, but for a music based story the music isn’t up to par. What shines are performances for Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao. Everyone else, especially his daughter deserve a good hiding.
The film starts with Anil Kapoor singing in a neighborhood for an orchestra at night. He’s simply sensational as he sings and dances to cheering crowd. During the day he operates a crane for a factory. He loves music so much, he names his baby ‘Lata’ after Lata Mangeshkar. He’s called ‘Fanney’ by his friends and his wife, because he is a ‘fankaar’ a man who has the ‘fan’ (pronounced ‘fun’) or the talent. Now the word also means someone who schemes and plots in order to get ahead in life, but Prashant Sharma aka Fanney Khan (played by Anil Kapoor) is a good guy, who lives for his music and his family. He wears his funky shirts with as much confidence as he wears the lungi at home and his taxi driver’s khaki shirt. His wife is played by Divya Dutta, and the filmmakers keep her like a cardboard cutout simply to ‘tsk, tsk’ her husband and pacify her daughter. We understand that a singer who is very talented wants his talented daughter to do well and dreams of a hit album for her.
It’s the kind of father every child should want to have. Someone who lives so that their child can make their dream come true. But this child, this daughter, is so ungrateful and so rude you either want to slap her really hard, or hope that she fails. The worst part of the casting is that they have picked a large sized actor to play the part (Pihu Sand). So one has to tread rather carefully because criticizing the character will be deemed as body shaming (which is done by people who laugh at her in local contests where even judges are cruel to her about her size and choice of songs). Keeping love for your child aside, why does no one from the family or friends tell the daughter Lata, that if you need a different kind of attitude and song choice (remember Rebel Wilson plays ‘Fat Amy’ in Pitch Perfect movies?). You just don’t buy the logic that the parents as well as Lata’s best friend cannot see why people are laughing at Lata.
And Lata is rude and obnoxious and demanding. For a child of poor parents, she comes across as rather entitled. That doesn’t endear her to the audience at all.
Then there’s Rajkummar Rao who plays Adhir, Fanney’s friend, who is also a nice guy with a girlfriend who borrows money from him all the time and looks like she is cheating on him from a mile away. Again, a cardboard cutout. But Rajkummar Rao is so good he does not see her rather obvious duplicity.
The friendship between Fanney and Adhir is shown really well. When the factory shuts down, they have to find other jobs. And you suddenly hear Anil Kapoor begin to talk in a Hyderabadi lingo. Before you can ask why, he has kidnapped Baby Singh the singing superstar (Aishwarya Rai who perhaps has not really acted after Iruvar, Kandukondain Kandukondain and Guru). Adhir who is at first appalled by the act, becomes a partner in crime. The interaction between the fresh at crime kidnappers and the spoilt singing star is funny at first, but gets annoying after a while. How simple are simpletons meant to be?
The second half of the film and especially the singing contest/reality show melodrama goes on and on and you begin to throw popcorn at the screen. More when the cardboard cutout villain played to the gills by Girish Kulkarni who is helped by his weird costumes of an evil manager of a singing star in weird colored lenses and a permanent leer. Since the producer and the manager have spoken of how wardrobe malfunctions increase TRPs of the show, you will watch in trepidation, not wanting to see that ‘accident’ happen to large Lata. Thankfully you are treated to a scene where Anil Kapoor is overwhelmed at seeing his daughter on stage on TV. The end is daft, but you come away relieved that the movie is over, and you come home with a great cinematic character of a great dad (with all his flaws) played brilliantly by Anil Kapoor.
(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com )