My dad’s family once lived in the land where all they care about is food, Hyderabad Deccan. So, all my father’s family to varying degrees use ‘Hoaws’ and ‘Nakos’ (Yes, they also cook delicious food). So, to watch Anil Kapoor play a Hyderabadi with such slackness was infuriating for me. Satish Kaushik, who also plays a Hyderabadi is so much more convincing. Setting off on the wrong foot, the film never recovers from there.
Fanney Khan, is a story of Prashant, also called Fanney Khan (Anil Kapoor), who was once a hit singer in his ‘Mohalla’, but never could quite make it. He initially works for a factory, where Raj Kumar Rao is a friend and a colleague. Soon, we are told that the owner of the factory has ran away to London, once it goes bankrupt. Prsahant goes to his old friend (Satish Kaushik) for help, who offers him a job as taxi driver.
All of Fanney’s efforts are to raise his daughter and make her a ‘star. A bit like Amir Khan’s Dangal, he decides that his daughter will full fill his dream. He controls the controllable by naming her Latta (Pihu Sand) but the uncontrollable(s) are a problem. She has a singer’s voice and but she turns out to be an overweight girl. This becomes a hurdle for her career as whenever she goes on stage, she is ridiculed about her weight. She vents out all her anger on her father, who is increasingly desperate for her to succeed. Divya Dutta, plays the mother, who at times is unreasonable and in other times, supportive of Fanney.
The image set in the minds of the populace of a pop icon is that of Baby Singh (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). She is playing India’s pop icon and inspiration to Latta. She dazzles in what would be somewhat familiar role for her. Tired of the star life, and after a spat in the middle of the road with her manager (Girish Kulkarni), she ends up in Fanney’s taxi. An increasingly desperation, Fanney starts off we-will-see-what-happens type of kidnapping of Baby Singh along with his friend, Rao. The ransom? Baby’s music team has to produce a song for her daughter, based on Fanney’s tune and lyrics. In this phase, Rao falls for Rai. These few minutes in the film feel real and without unnecessary drama. Rao gets a chance to show off his charm and Rai, digs it. Its a slightly raw moment in an overtly sweetened film.
A lot of gibberish goes on, between the manager of Baby Singh and Prashant. They switch sides, as the manager starts ordering Fanney around, threatening him of taking away Latta’s opportunity as a singer and a performer at India ke Avaz finale. Latta ends up replacing Baby Singh and we see a split screen of the kidnapping scene and Latta performing on stage. The whole plot is absurd with the climax being the icing on the top.
There are so many things wrong with the film, it’s hard to decide where to start. The relationship between Latta and her father is bizarre. Most teenagers aren’t fans of their parents, there is a general acceptance of this. But no one hates their parent(s) with a passion unless there is clear motive. In Atul Manjrekar’s film, Latta is so bitter towards her father, you feel sad for him. But without reason, so while there is sympathy, one is confused and soon distracted. Perhaps as a pay back, the universe hates her, even people in position of power and responsibility are just outright nasty to her. To have emotionally charged moments throughout the film is a tough ask (unless your surname is Hirani). But the director persist, using suggestive background music to make us teary. These characters, go on to perform some absurd acts in the name of love and friendship. The film could have targeted children, but it has two girls, talking about how important sexual favors are for going ahead in the entertainment business.
Performances by Anil Kapoor and Raj Kumar Rao are earnest but they have been given such a bad deal. Especially Anil Kapoor as the father, puts his heart and soul in it. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, is adequate and while Divya Dutta provides the voice inside the head of the viewer (what the hell is going on). For a film whose story is based on singers, music is underwhelming. Perhaps the cast and the director had their hearts in the right place, but there is absolutely no brain.