Home > Movies > Thoughts On Finding Fanny: Of Goa, Gabo And Guffaws

Thoughts On Finding Fanny: Of Goa, Gabo And Guffaws

Somewhere in the midst of watching Finding Fanny, I thought of Wes Anderson and his delightful The Grand Budapest Hotel. Both movies open with a narrator setting the context for what lies ahead. Here, it’s Angie (Deepika Padukone) describing a fictitious place in Goa  – Pocolim, as a “puppet-show as large as a village”. A reasonably interesting bunch of characters are then introduced, most of them slightly dysfunctional, setting the stage for a promising plot. Unfortunately, that’s where any similarity between the two movies ends (well, there is a common thread of a feline meeting a violent death, not sure whether that was coincidental or an intentional hat-tip).

Anderson lords over the quirky/whimsical genre of film-making, with an attention to detail, depth of characterisation, and deft touches that made TGBH such an engrossing masterpiece. In stark contrast, Homi Adajania, who made an impressive debut with Being Cyrus, disappoints with his latest effort.

The story revolves around Pocolim’s postmaster Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah)’s search for the eponymous Fanny, the love of his life, forty six years after he let her slip away.  Angie orchestrates matters such that Rosie, her matronly mother-in-law with the ample behind (Dimple Kapadia), the local artist Don Pedro who lusts after Rosie as his muse (Pankaj Kapur), and Angie’s admirer from the past, the Bombay-returned Savio (Arjun Kapoor), are their fellow travellers on this quest. FF1

This basic premise of the five companions who band together for a road trip feels like a slightly contrived setup. Ok, Savio still pines for Angie and maybe can’t say no to her, but there’s no reason for Rosie to be there, except that she then becomes the bait to get Don Pedro into the scheme of things – and of course, he loans his car too. It’s almost like Adajania doesn’t care too much for details, he just wants to somehow bundle up his cast of characters for a madcap ride.

The overall attempt is to be drolly..and cool.. and deep and poignant too, but its badly hampered by the fact that the movie tries very hard to be all of these. (Exhibit 1 – The conversation between Angie and Savio about post-coitus rolling over and falling asleep).  There are scenes that fall straight in the realm of bad slapstick (Exhibit 2 –  the Don Pedro tea-biscuit scene). There is a longing for the Goa of yore and a veiled reference to how this once idyllic town is being taken over by the mafia (Exhibit 3 – Scene with the loony Russian).   At best, these kind of sequences elicit some forced guffaws. An extremely weak climax also doesn’t help at all – a clumsy attempt to tie things up at the end works at cross purposes with all that the film has tried to be till then.

It’s probably not a stretch to figure out where Adajania gets his inspiration from.  Angie’s backstory is that she was widowed on her wedding day – her caricature for a husband (Ranveer Singh in a fleeting cameo), chokes on the marzipan , but the real reveal is that his character is named Gabo. The imaginary village of Pocolim is very likely Adajania’s version of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Macondo.  Goa is beautifully shot in the film, and Pocolim, with its coconut palms, churches and bylanes evokes a nostalgic feel for a quaintly magical place. Like in Marquez’s novels, those who feature in Ferdie’s quest for love have their own imaginary world intertwined with the reality of their lives.

What I felt really let down by, is that Adjania had such a first-rate cast at his disposal. Naseer and Pankaj Kapur could have done these roles in their sleep – competent all right, but more clichéd than compelling.  Arjun Kapoor is still finding his way, has promise.

Deepika Padukone is resplendently gorgeous, lighting up every frame with her presence . Dimple Kapadia seems to be having fun wiggling her bottom and delivering lines like ‘wine is not good for me because… it makes me spread my legs’, with panache.

So yes,  I get that this is not a movie with a story line,  is more a metaphor for life, about how we are all lost in our solitude, etc.  But its a bit all over the place, and loses its way often. A lot of the dialogue has a Konkani lilt (I ‘toh’ felt, etc)  , which is good.. but in between, Angie also comes up with a  “return of the prodigal son” kind of line which feels oddly out of place in that particular conversation.

The characters are half-baked, we don’t feel for them like we should. At least I didn’t.

Finding Fanny, for me, felt like a recipe which has mouth-watering ingredients, which fail to come together as a dish that you can savour.

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