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“No one deserves an incomplete love story.” Finding Fanny humorously and thoughtfully explores the ways that waiting for an answer suspends us in time.
The above quote is spoken by the film’s narrator, Angie (Deepika Padukone), a 26-year-old widow living in Pocolim, a tiny town in Goa. Life’s forward progress stopped for Angie when her husband (Ranveer Singh) choked to death on their wedding cake, though she’s serene about her situation. She lives with her mother-in-law, Rosie (Dimple Kapadia), the queen bee of Pocolim.
Angie’s best friend is Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah), the town’s mailman. His forward progress stopped forty-six years ago when he wrote a letter proposing marriage to a girl named Fanny Fernandez, but never received a response. He’s the only boy in the church choir with white hair.
One night, the letter Ferdie mailed to Fanny is slipped under his door, unopened and undelivered. Angie organizes a trip to help Ferdie find Fanny and discover what her answer would have been. She enlists the help of her mother-in-law, her recently returned childhood sweetheart, Savio (Arjun Kapoor), and Don Pedro, (Pankaj Kapur), a visiting artist obsessed with voluptuous Rosie and owner of the town’s only car.
Of course the brief road trip winds up far more complicated than expected, and tensions flare within the group. Ferdie reveals to Savio the reason why his formerly close friendship with Rosie ended, and Savio fights with Angie about what would’ve happened had he married her instead. Don Pedro’s lecherous ogling of Rosie doesn’t help matters.
Finding Fanny is a beautiful looking film, thanks to cinematographer Anil Mehta. There are lots of wonderful individual shots — Angie’s face as she stares pensively out the open car window, for example — as well as wide shots showing the vastness of the world outside of Pocolim that never before interested Rosie, Ferdie, or Angie. The visual beauty is enhanced by Mathias Duplessy’s vibrant score.
The actors keep their performances subdued. Much is communicated non-verbally, especially by the expressive faces of Padukone and Shah. At the same time, the characters are all funny, none more so than Kapadia’s Rosie. The members of the traveling party are eccentrics, not outrageous goofballs or weirdos.
The glaring exception to the subtly rule is a Russian man who now owns Fanny’s childhood home. His delivery is so loud and exaggerated in comparison to the other performances that it feels out-of-place.
Perhaps the film’s biggest fault lies in the development of Angie’s character (though that’s not a slight on Padukone’s terrific portrayal). It’s obvious what every other character wants: Savio wants Angie; Don Pedro wants Rosie; Ferdie wants the Fanny of his memories; and Rosie wants to live a dignified life that she controls.
It’s never clear what Angie wants, other than to reunite Ferdie with Fanny. She speaks in important-sounding vagaries that don’t really mean anything. Is the point that she’s still too young to know what she wants? That we should be at peace with what we have? I was never sure. That’s a letdown for a character who’s not only the film’s narrator, but also the most important person in the lives of Ferdie, Rosie, and Savio.
Still, Finding Fanny is one of the more intriguing movies to come out of Bollywood this year. The fact that the dialogue is in English just adds to the intrigue. It’s unique, enjoyable, and worth a watch.
Must not skip this one! Thanks for the review.
Glad to hear this one worked out. I always thought the Trailers showed an English shot version of the film, but I guess the official release is all English spoken only huh? Makes this movie that much more interesting.
Very well written Kathy.
Thanks, Shahid! I read/heard that they shot a Hindi version as well as an English version, but that may not be true. It may just be classified as “English/Hindi” because there are about five lines of spoken Hindi. Other than that, the version we got here in North America is all spoken English (with English subtitles, go figure).
Finding Fanny is facing good competition from Creature 3D, dont think this movie will gain enough appreciation compared to Kahaani, Queen and ZNMD.
Here’s a short report on how the movie opened in India:
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Nice analysis… also, a rating of 3 out of 4 is also quite reasonable! And, yes, Finding Fanny is one of the more intriguing movies to come out of Bollywood this year. Now, I don’t know whether it’s supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing… the audiences surely deserve more such films, if not better.
Btw, here’s the link to my review of Finding Fanny (would love to have your thoughts):
Thanks for the link and the compliments! I agree with your assessment that the audience deserves more films like this. If only other slightly off-beat movies like Dekh Tamasha Dekh, Filmistaan, and Ankhon Dekhi could get the exposure that Finding Fanny did…
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