Pride is the main culprit of 'Finding Fanny', a gorgeous piece of Indian cinema set in modern-day, mildew-covered Goa. Pride is also why the film has zero chance of performing well at the Indian box office: its all-Indian cast speaks clever dialogues in English, the film lacks a strong male hero, and an actress (Deepika Padukone) beloved for her girl-next-door appeal plays a lovely local widow who lusts for and enjoys premarital sex -- outoors!
All reasons for (nearly all male) guardians of Indian cinema to dismiss this film as too quirky, too oddball, too intelligent, too .... ambitious.
Can you even fucking imagine?
|Angie (Deepika Padukone) and Savio (Arjun Kapoor).|
Deepika's the biggest female star in Bollywood right now so it's almost a relief to see her captured in natural light, sans caked makeup and stripper costumes. The Goa of cinematographer Anil Mehta is overgrown and decaying but Angie glows like sand on a beach at sunset. Dimple's Rosie first appears on wobbly heels wielding a collapsible fan like a switchblade but she too is adored by Anil's camera; a later shot of her laying beneath a tree in a field may be the first time I've seen a Rubenesque figure in an Indian film. The pleading sexuality of an older woman laying on her side in a Western-style dress is funny at first, but the longer Rosie luxuriates and drinks cheap booze and chats up the hapless Ferdie, all to the annoyance of Don Pedro, the more she loses her comic persona and becomes what she really is: A desperately lonely woman whose seafaring husband disappeared decades ago. Her relationship with man-child Ferdie is the last thing you'd expect to evolve but it does, which leads to a frustrated, impotent Don Pedro destroying Rosie in the only way he can -- by painting her as an ogre without a face, i.e., without a soul.
|Don Pedro (Pankaj Kapur) with his grotesque portrait of Rosie (Dimple Kapadia).|
Director Homi Adajania is a young man with one commercially successful venture (2012's Cocktail) and two critically acclaimed flops, Being Cyrus (2006) and 'Finding Fanny'. The man has bills to pay so it's fair to expect his next film to appeal to the masses but I hope he keeps chipping away at audience -- and critics' -- expectations. Film lovers around the world stand to benefit.