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Film review: Finding Fanny

By Sam Sarma

Finding Fanny

Finding Fanny

The movie unfolds like an impressionist dreamscape. Vivid colours, fluid, magical – from start to finish each scene is beautiful. The Goa that is shown is very unlike anything seen before – no beaches, no touristy fun, nothing modern. This Goa is timeless, enchanting and beckons you to step off the beaten path and explore.

The film is set in a sleepy village, Pocolim, where anybody’s business is everybody’s business. In this village, things start moving when Ferdie, brilliantly played by Nasseruddin Shah, gets back a letter written by him 46 years ago to the love of his life. The film begins with four characters who go off on a ride along with Ferdie to find Fanny – Stephanie Fernandes (Anjali Patil). Angie (Deepika Padukone) manipulates the other three in to going along on a journey to finding love for Casanova of the village, Ferdie.

Savio(Arjun Kapur) is in the journey for Angie, he loved her but never told her. In a way, another Ferdie in the making, though, he does not see himself as so. While Don Pedro(Pankaj kapur), is in the trip for the master painting he wants to do of his new found muse, Rosie, also brilliantly played by Dimple Kapadia, who is ostensibly going along to protect Angie’s from Savio.

And the journey begins.

The Characters are beautifully etched, eccentric and individual and well cast. And it is the beauty of these characters that drives the film.

My favourite character is, however, Angie. Angie is manipulative but she does it only to help, though you just somehow know that she occasionally plays with folk in a spirit of harmless mischief. Her character makes the feminist in me sit up and howl for joy. After way too many TSTL (too stupid to live) heroines, you get to see a take-charge competent heroine who just gets things done. I adore her frank sexuality. She is in no way a romantic and does not cover up her sexuality with the fig leaf of love. She and Savio are friends and that is enough. I have never thought Deepika Padukone much of an actress but either she had enough in common with Angie that she did not really have to act or the director pulled it from her.

Rosie is a benevolent despot and Dimple Kapadia effortlessly makes you believe in her. She reigns over the film and is, I think, the only truly complex character in the film. Rosie is contradictory and befuddled – a ham-handed meddler, self centered, bitter, lovable and loving – the undisputed queen, with Angie playing Birbal to her Akbar. When Don Pedro’s tells her she has no soul, you realise that he is the souless one, a modern artist with an instinct for drama and little humanity.

Savio is a hapless dreamer and Arjun Kapoor has got him just right. Angie is wrong, I think, when she says she broke him, he was already a lost soul, another Ferdie, and given that Angie has decided to look after him he should do just fine.

Ferdie is a child-like innocent who is way too easy for Naseeruddin Shah really. Some of the best moments in the film are his. The dream sequence with his lost love, plays out lyrically till, almost literally, cold water is splashed on it. I think it is hands down the most beautiful scene in the film.

Pankaj Kapur as Don Pedro could have been a stereotype – a drunken letch – in less competent hands, but he handles Pedro perfectly and brings him alive.

All the other characters, the priest, the would-be suitor, etc., are like pieces in an orchestra – perfectly tuned and synchronized and masterfully conducted by director, Homi Adajania – playing the grand opera that is this film.

I wish Dimple would grace the screen more often, at her worst she is better than most at their best. Even in a film this good there were a few scenes which stood out. The best, for me, were the drinking scene with Ferdie and Don Pedro, and the expression on her face when she looks at the Don Pedro’s masterpiece – brilliantly conceived scenes.

An unusual film, with female protagonists – the queen and the princess ruling the screen – and men who are able foils. An intelligent film which engages the viewer’s mind and satisfies the heart. Go see it now.

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Sam Sarma is a serial entrepreneur and film buff, based at Hyderabad.

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