Starring Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao, Fanney Khan featured all the names required to make headlines from the word go. Fans of the actors were waiting with bated breath to find out as to what would the story of the film be like. When the trailer of the film released, it promised a compelling tale of a father's determination. But does the film deliver on it? Let's find out...
What's it about
Prashant Sharma aka Fanney Khan (Anil Kapoor) is your average middle-class man. However, what sets him apart are his dreams. Despite worshipping Mohammad Rafi and Shammi Kapoor, he has to make do by singing in an orchestra. He remains a gully boy, never really making it big. So even before his daughter utters her first word, he entrusts her with the responsibility of fulfilling his dreams, even naming her after Lata Mangeshkar. He gives up the orchestra for her and makes a living by working in a factory, even taking up the job of a cab driver when he loses his employment. However, unlike her father, Lata (Pihu Sand), grows up idolizing Baby Singh aka Sumitra (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). She aspires to be just as famous but everytime she steps up on the stage, she is ridiculed for her size and appearance. And just as she is on the brink of quitting her dream of becoming a renowned singer, her father decides to cut an album for her. The only glitch are the finances. But when a distressed Baby hails Fanney's cab, his first instinct is to kidnap her. With a lot of help from his ex-colleague but all season friend, Adhir (Rajkummar Rao), he makes ransom calls and unreasonable demands. But he soon realises that Baby has a lot more to offer than just money. He hatches a plan to extort an album out of Baby's manager. However, it proves to be easier thought than done.
It is so good to see Anil Kapoor in a meaty and substantial role after a long time. His vulnerability - first as a struggling artist and then as a hopeful father - is endearing. He breathes life into Fanney with the little gestures. The manner in which he prays to his singing idols, composes songs for his daughter and sings them with all earnestness, or the way he cheers for her everytime she is on stage, makes you want to root for him. As a middle-class man struggling to make ends meet yet dreaming of stardom, Anil manages to capture a raw emotion and make it his own. Divya Dutta, who plays Anil's wife, is just as good in her role of being the voice of reason and at the same time being a caring and supportive mother. Rajkummar Rao has very little to do in the film and yet he essays Adhir with utmost reverence. You want to hug him when he is mistreated by his girlfriend, and moon over him when he turns a fan boy. Pihu Sand makes an impact as the daughter stuck between her father's dreams, her own aspirations and reality. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan looks like a million bucks and shines in the moments when she becomes Sumitra.
The film also does a good job of highlighting how reality shows milk emotions rather than talent to get higher TRPs. It also touches upon the topic of disillusionment that comes with superstardom in the moments when Baby rues the manner in which her life has shaped up.
The story glorifies the fact that Fanney Khan is living his life vicariously through his daughter. It makes a hero out of him when he commits a crime just to see his daughter on the stage of a reality show. How beautiful would it be if he had sat down with Baby and had a chat about how achieving superstardom is not everything and then go home and ask his daughter as to what would she want to do. Wouldn't it be a welcome change to not see the titular character emerging as the winner? How cool would it be if he helped his daughter achieve fame in the right manner! But unfortunately, like most Bollywood films, Fanney Khan gets too involved with the protagonist to look at other angles to explore. Also, considering it was promoted as a musical, the film deserved a better album.
What to do
The sincerity with which Anil and Rajkummar portray their characters and Aishwarya's star power are enough reasons to buy tickets to the film.
3.0 out of 5
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