Our films over the years have had all these bizarre, contrasting images of Goa. From Goa being a suburban Christian community with music and intimacy and emotions (apropos Kabhi Hann Kabhi Naa), to Goa being the demonic and savage underbelly of Crime and Mafia to a Goa still in its deranged, delusional state with all the young blood and all the liquid LSD flowing through it, but somehow Homi Adajania’s potrayal of Goa as a whimsical, Marquezian universe with characters that are neurotic and music that is quirky and colours that seem like a world dressed in Instagram filters is all so picturesque and the whole unreality of it seemed so surreal that I had to had to write about it.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written about a film, but then each and every other film that there has been, in it’s own genre, could be well perceived of being either good or bad and that could be well distinguished by the audiences that behold. Whereas ‘Finding Fanny’, in it’s own way is all too intricate and layered and has this tinge of unconventionality that somehow manages to knock the wind out of your stomach. Maybe during the end of it it makes you question the fact whether you liked the film or not? Was it an inspiring road-trip film or did it have any poignant moments of self-introspection by the characters, to which I’d like to disappoint you by saying there’s none of this in the film. Then what is it that makes you like a film like this? To which I’d say are the characters, who are so incomplete in their own being (just like any of us) that they seem to complete you.
What is more questionable is the fact that all of this is being written about an Indian film, but then all of this could only be felt about an Indian film. That even among the cacophony of poorly made films lacking in both luster and substance there perhaps might be a few hidden Easter eggs that fill you up with all this inexpressible zeal of it’s discovery. Which is what I love about our films, that even after all these years, they never fail to surprise us. They did that with the highly unconventional ‘Delhi Belly’ which was all so mad and hysterical yet had so much substance and also with ‘Udaan’ that had substance and artistic integrity filled upto the brim. ‘Finding Fanny’ could be described as a film for me that was a sly reminder of two things, how much I love watching films and how much I miss writing about them. And it filled me up with all these delicate emotions that I almost felt like a Zeppelin on the verge of blowing up to pieces. So here’s my short, personally opinionated review of a film that I found interesting.
Pocolim- a fictional town in the whimsical parts of Goa, with people as whimsical as the location. Quoting a line from the film ” It’s a place where life doesn’t pass you by, but rather moves along with you” It’s a village where somehow everybody knows everybody and where all that is unproductive and pointless is somehow a part of life. In the backdrop of this village is a young widow whose husband dies just a day after their marriage; a puerile, hopeless romantic postmaster with no mails to deliver and a broken heart to mend; an obnoxious mechanic whose father just died; another old widow with her nose up in the air and has the same bitterness towards the world as does the mechanic;a fanatical artist with all the extremism for his art and his fetish for ‘big’ women; tightly- tuned guitars; accordions; a dysfunctional vibe in a village which speaks it’s English in tattered ways, with phrases like “What you doing?” “How this possible?” “How you speak!’; a dead cat; a rusty, foreign car; a bizzaro painting; and somehow all this quirky chaos is doing the one thing that it is set out to do- ‘Trying to find happiness.’
Now that pursuit of happiness may be initiated by the postmaster’s sudden revelation of the fact that after 46 years of his life, his love ‘Fanny Fernandes’ had never received the one letter of his confession of love to her and all his life was based on the illusion of rejection. He, along with all the other four nutbags, set out on a journey to find her. What happens next, perhaps, changes their particular lives for the better (and even for the worst). A film like ‘Finding Fanny’ never really lies in the conclusion of it all, but rather in the characters and their journey and Homi Adajania’s characters are all so messed up, that they all seem likeable. There’s the postmaster, naive and oozing in love Naseerudin Shah who is unarguably spot on with all the precise emotions at all the necessary times, but then this is the Naseerudin Shah that has been all so formidable in all his films and all those who’ve been to naive to notice that should perhaps have their eyes melted in a furnace. Then there is the all so egoistic yet pretentious artist played by Pankaj Kapoor and again, these are actors who never fail to deliver. A very appreciative revelation was Deepika Padukone as the widow with all her puritan beliefs and who somehow tries to find happiness for herself by finding happiness for others. Arjun Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia were all too sparse yet likeable in their respective, bitter roles filled with a tinge of sarcasm.
Homi’s style of film-making is a little similar to Wes Anderson (just a little) with the dysfunctional characters being involved in awkward situations, but the imagery of a Wes Anderson film is what our films would perhaps need quite some time to accomplish. There is also this serene yet humorous background music of accordions and violins, so as to create a sense of ethnicity. There are a few staggering situational humour instances, for say, when a Father reveals his intention of getting married the postmaster retorts by saying “Then what are you waiting for? The second coming? You’ve waited for that since the last 2000 years and look where it has got you.”
‘Finding Fanny’ leaves us with the most cliched question there is- ‘How do we find happiness in our lives?’ To which the answer might be that happiness doesn’t lie in the conclusion after it’s chasing, but in the journey there is in it’s pursuit. We may find it in lost love, surreal artforms, one night stands, flattery, sunsets or even in ice-creams. All we have to do is stop searching for the pot of gold and feast our eyes with the rainbow instead.
“Were we any wiser at end of it?” asks the widow. To which the answer is I do not know. Or it might be, as Antoine de Saint Exupery had said, ‘for what is essential is invisible to the eyes…’