Tag Archives: Fanney Khan

Movie Review: Fanney Khan (2018)

1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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The corny family drama Fanney Khan lacks the self-awareness to notice its obvious thematic flaws.

Anil Kapoor’s title character is the only one that really matters in the film. Fanney traded in his life as a small-time band leader for a steady factory job following the birth of his daughter, Lata, whom he named after his favorite singer in the hopes that little Lata would one day achieve the stardom he never could himself.

Stardom proves hard to come by for Lata, however. As a teenager (played by Pihu Sand), Lata is repeatedly booed off stage at talent competitions by audiences and judges more interested in teasing her about her weight than listening to her sing. She finds her dad’s musical taste cheesy, but performing racy pop songs isn’t working for her either. Instead of allowing Lata to find her own way, the movie leaves it to Fanney to chart Lata’s course for her.

A chance encounter with the famous pop star Baby Singh (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) inspires Fanney’s boldest plan for Lata’s success. He kidnaps Baby and holds her for ransom — not for the money his family desperately needs, but in exchange for getting Lata in the recording studio with Baby’s manager, Kakkad (Girish Kulkarni). Fanney recruits his jobless friend, Adhir (Rajkummar Rao) to keep watch over Baby, but Adhir’s crush on the star makes him an ineffective guard.

Fanney Khan might have succeeded as a pedestrian-yet-heartwarming family film were it not for a bizarre minor theme that alters the movie’s moral message in a way that debutant writer-director Atul Manjrekar appears not to have noticed.

The theme is first introduced when Lata plans her next live performance with her best friend, Rhea (Barbie Rajput, who is fantastic in her few scenes). When Rhea speculates that many top female stars slept with producers or other benefactors in order to become famous, Lata’s mother, Kavita (Divya Dutta), slowly enters the room, accompanied by music as somber as the expression on her face. She forbids the two girls from discussing the topic, even though were Rhea and Lata were both grossed out by the prospect and not actually considering it.

The same somber musical accompaniment reappears when Fanney asks Baby if she’d ever been pressured into sex for the sake of her career, when Kakkad is alone in a hotel room with Lata, and when Kavita sees Lata dressed in a (modest) one shoulder gown that Kavita nevertheless finds too revealing.

This repeated focus on women’s bodies and sexuality as they relate to fame is meant to convey the moral that women’s bodies are not tradeable commodities.

How, then, does director Manjrekar fail to notice the irony that his protagonist kidnaps a woman in order to trade her body for his own daughter’s success?

Fanney Khan is not a black comedy, and the sex-for-fame cautionary subplot isn’t explicitly juxtaposed against the main plot. Fanney is unquestionably a hero, slow-clapped by the very cops who come to arrest him as a way of praising his fatherly devotion.

Perhaps the point of the subplot is to convey that men may do what they like with women’s bodies, but women themselves may not treat their bodies as commodities. None of the men in the film face any repercussions for mistreating or intending to mistreat women’s bodies. Not Fanney or Adhir for kidnapping Baby, and not the studio head who wants Baby to have an “accidental” wardrobe malfunction in order to garner publicity. The character of a female recording engineer is invented specifically so that Kakkad can leer at her, thus making it appear as though Lata is in moral jeopardy when she’s alone in a room with him later. That Kavita doubts for a second whether Lata actually slept with Kakkad shows how little the film’s writers think of women’s ability to make their own moral judgements.

Fanney Khan lets down its main cast, who are all very good in the movie. Sand acquits herself well in her film debut, and she shares a nice mother-daughter rapport with Dutta. Rai Bachchan is natural in the role of a superstar, of course, and Rao is entertaining as always. Kapoor is flat-out terrific as the ultimate family man, making Fanney all the more endearing through his enthusiasm and cheerfulness. One way Kapoor could turn Fanney Khan into a positive is by taking Fanney’s band and backup dancers on the road, because they are a hoot. Enjoy them performing “Badan Pe Sitaare” in the video below:

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Opening August 10: Vishwaroop II

Kamal Haasan’s multilingual action film Vishwaroop 2 hits Chicago area theaters on August 10, 2018. Shot simultaneously in Hindi and Tamil (as Vishwaroopam 2), the film’s Telugu-dubbed version releases locally as well.

Vishwaroop 2 (Hindi) opens on Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, with preview shows starting Thursday night. Vishwaroopam 2 (Tamil and Telugu-dubbed) opens Thursday night at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge. All versions have English subtitles and listed runtimes of 2 hrs. 25 min.

Fanney Khan gets a second week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and the Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Karwaan and Mulk also carry over at the South Barrington 24 and MovieMax, which holds on to Dhadak and Sanju as well.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: August 3-5, 2018

Three new Bollywood releases, three lackluster opening weekends. Fanney Khan, Karwaan, and Mulk struggled during the weekend of August 3-5, 2018, with all three posting totals well below $200,000, the median opening weekend total for Hindi films in North America for the year so far. Fanney Khan scored the widest release, giving it the biggest returns: $139,584 from 69 theaters* ($2,023 average), according to Bollywood Hungama. Karwaan was next with $91,108 from 58 theaters ($1,571 average), followed by Mulk, with $53,747 from 25 theaters ($2,150 average). Those low totals aren’t just a result of modest theater counts. All of the films’ per-theater averages were far below this year’s median average of approximately $3,000, indicating a lack of audience interest.

Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:

  • Dhadak: Week 3; $28,154 from 25 theaters; $1,126 average; $831,378 total
  • Sanju: Week 6; $22,731 from 16 theaters*; $1,421 average; $7,852,209 total
  • Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3: Week 2; $529 from five theaters; $106 average; $43,910 total
  • Soorma: Week 4; $450 from one theater; $378,148 total

*Bollywood Hungama routinely counts Canadian theaters twice in its weekly reporting, at least for a movie’s first few weekends of release. When possible, I try to verify the correct theater count with other sources. The above figures represent what I believe to be the actual theater counts. Bollywood Hungama’s reporting technically puts Fanney Khan in 83 theaters (making for a $1,682 per-theater average), Karwaan in 68 theaters ($1,340 average), Mulk in 31 theaters ($1,734 average), and Sanju in 22 theaters ($1,033 average).

Sources: 143 Cinema, Bollywood Hungama, and Box Office Mojo

Opening August 3: Fanney Khan, Karwaan, Mulk, and Puzzle

It’s a busy weekend for Chicago are Bollywood fans with three new Hindi films opening locally. The movie getting the widest release on August 3, 2018, is Fanney Khan, starring Anil Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Fanney Khan opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 9 min.

Also new this week is the road trip flick Karwaan, featuring Irrfan Khan and Malayalam-film star Dulquer Salmaan in his Bollywood debut. Karwaan opens Friday at the River East 21, MovieMax, and South Barrington 24. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 54 min.

Last among the new releases is the courtroom drama Mulk, starring Taapsee Pannu and Rishi Kapoor. Mulk opens Friday at MovieMax and the South Barrington 24. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

Sanju carries over for a sixth week at MovieMax, South Barrington 24, and the AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodrige. Dhadak gets a third week at the South Barrington 24 and MovieMax, which also holds over Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3.

Karwaan isn’t Irrfan Khan’s only new local release this weekend. He co-stars in the English-language film Puzzle, a drama about a New England housewife whose life changes after receiving a puzzle as a gift. It debuts Friday at the River East 21, Century Centre Cinema in Chicago, and Century 12 Evanston in Evanston before it opens region-wide on August 24. I haven’t stopped thinking about Puzzle since I watched it.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend: