Finding Fanny — Lost lovers on a road trip

Cast: Naseerudin Shah, Pankaj Kapur, Dimple Kapadia, Deepika Padukone, Arjun Kapoor Director : Homi Adajania

It’s always such a delight to witness great acting on the big screen. Given the Hindi film industry’s propensity to pass off mediocrity as art, I cannot stress enough just how wonderful Finding Fanny is aesthetically. Dimple Kapadia resurrects her Catholic girl character from Bobby, now as a middle aged widow who is the life of a small village in Goa. The fine actress that she is, in the company of other luminaries like Naseeruddin Shah and Pankaj Kapur, she shines even more.

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Adajania has a knack for picking up stories that are often weird and quite out of the box, and here I’m choosing to ignore the rather regressive Cocktail. In Finding Fanny too, he tells the story of a bunch of maladjusted characters who head out on a road trip to find the love of the local postman, Ferdie’s (Shah) life — Fanny. 46 years after he had written Fanny a letter asking her to marry him, Ferdie finds the letter returned to his doorstep, undelivered; realising that he had spent all his life being miserable about being jilted in love while actually Fanny had never received his letter at all.

Accompanying him on this journey is his best friend, the virgin widow Angie (Padukone), Angie’s mother-in-law (Kapadia), a deranged and perverted artist obsessed with painting portraits of voluptuous women (Pankaj Kapoor) and Savio (Arjun Kapoor), who has a hard time telling Angie that he loves her. And a cat. `

Intermittently funny and gloomy, Finding Fanny is more optimistic about love and happiness than the oppressively dark Being Cyrus. Yet, one is left feeling a bit disappointed by just how superficial the characters’ idiosyncrasies are. One scene between Kapadia and Pankaj Kapur where he promises to paint a dazzling picture of her but does something soul crushingly horrifying instead, and here I thought the layers were starting to be peeled away. But the film pulls itself back into the breezy-soundtrack-road trip-zone’ again, leaving much unsaid. There were enough lies, deceit, shame and pride in this little village of Pocolim where “nothing seemed to ever happen” for this to become a far more rounded black comedy, a path the filmmaker chose not to take, keeping things light and funny most of the time.

Angie’s character was particularly interesting for how she learns to not sit around waiting for life to ‘happen’ to her or for others to make her happy. In six years of widowhood, she realises the value of seizing what she wants, and *spoiler alert* if its a kiss or sex that she wants, she does so without guilt. “Is this as good as it gets?,” she asks Savio after a rather bland sexual encounter. She seduces him and tells him clearly that if she hadn’t, he wouldn’t never have had the courage to do anything. (Padukone pulls off a remarkably convincing performance.)

Naseeruddin Shah is refreshingly different in Finding Fanny. His body, face, and his voice too were so brilliantly sculpted to fit the character of the nervous, idiotic, broken, insecure but loving guy who must find his Fanny all these years later.

Its a film that will make you happy and dreamy, but make sure you register all the fractures and scars in the characters’ lives, since the film itself doesn’t make it a point to do so.

The article was first published in Newsyaps in September 2014. The website has since shut down.

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