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‘The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir’ review: A charming Dhanush in a not-quite extraordinary movie

Dhanush is as charming as ever in the ‘The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir’

Dhanush is as charming as ever in the ‘The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A soft, superficial take on the people and streets of India, operating on Hollywood tropes

Oddly, though, The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir can be seen as a companion piece to Rohit Shetty’s obnoxious Chennai Express, wherein the hero sets out on a voyage to immerse his grandfather’s ashes and falls in love with his Meenamma. Ajatashatru Lavash Patel aka Aja (an excellent Dhanush, who, at times, looks alien to this universe) undergoes a similar journey in Fakir. The difference is that Fakir is never boring and enjoyable in parts. It opens with Aja narrating a deeply personal story to a bunch of boys from a Mumbai slum, who have been caught by the police for a petty crime.

We’re introduced to a young Aja, an illusionist-cum-street-performer, who is raised by his single mother (played by Amrutha Sant). Through the initial rushes, Ken Scott presents the boy’s worldview through Aja's eyes. Aja discovers that he’s probably poor, even though his mother says, “We have each other”. He looks at random men and prods his mother, asking if any of them are his dad. The first 20 minutes of storytelling is irresistibly entertaining, only to be crushed by its fluffy and conveniently-written second half. The film unfolds like a fairytale, where Aja shares his ‘extraordinary’ journey of self-discovery that all begins with a ‘chance’. What if there was a chance to redeem his economic condition? What if there was a chance to discover his estranged father? What if there was a chance to travel to Paris with 100 Euro, that too a fake note? What if there was a chance to date an American, because why not? What if there was a chance to make the world a better place?

Aja meets Marie (Erin Moriarty) at a furniture store in Paris. He falls for her at the blink of an eye, and tries to charm her by trying to strike a conversation. When Aja meets Marie at the living room set-up in the store, he says, “Sorry honey, I couldn’t make it for dinner.” She finds this strange, so do we. But later, she, too, joins this quirky game and says, “I’m pregnant.” The scene is so warm, so cute that it makes you smile. And it helps that Dhanush was the ‘chosen one’ to play Ajatashatru Lavash Patel, for his broken English with an Indian accent brings the character alive.

But the problem with The Extraordinary Journey of The Fakir is that it’s a soft, superficial take on the streets of India, its people, and migrant crisis among other things. It pretty much operates on Hollywood tropes —a mix of song and dance, actress in a broken marriage, misadventures and situational comedy— popularised by the Johnny English series.

Aja’s eccentric adventure takes him to several countries. During one such trip, he ends up in the wardrobe of a popular Hollywood actress Nelly Marnay (Berenice Bejo). You know she will buy his innocence. You know Aja will help Nelly in return. But what you won’t guess is that Aja and Nelly groove to a Bollywood song. It’s also funny that Amit Trivedi’s soundtrack has been added to a few scenes. We don’t know if this was part of the international version, but it says a lot about what the world thinks of Indian movies.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:10:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/the-extraordinary-journey-of-the-fakir-review-a-charming-dhanush-in-a-not-quite-extraordinary-movie/article28100809.ece

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