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Fukrey Returns Movie Review: It Returns,Thankfully With Entertainment!

Subhash K . Jha

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Starring: Richa ChadhaPulkit Samrat, Ali FazalManjot Singh,Varun Sharma

Directed by: Mrighdeep Singh Lamba

Rating: *** ½(3 a half stars)

 There  is a kind of quirky credibility in the way the characters of Fukrey have grown on us ever since they were seen  in  the first Fukrey film.It’s been  nearly five years. But we haven’t forgotten HunnyChoochaLali , Pandit  and last but not the least,the woman who won’t be put on  a leash, Bholi Punjaban.

 Please note, I make no mention  of  Zafar,played by  Ali Fazal, as his character remains strangely sketchy, unfinished, incomplete.He is  a  Fukrey on  the look-out for  a more fleshed-out platform of expression.

Strange, because  the other principal players in this prickly parody of Capital consumerism are  so vividly etched, we  feel we  know them inside-out. Fukrey Returns acquaints  us with the bang-gang  even better than the  first Fukrey film.

And boy, is  the gang having fun!

Wait…no , not  so much fun when they are hunted and chased down by a mob instigated  by a wily slimy politician.

It’s all done in the spirit of a festive  if doomed farce, orchestrated and executed with a casual finesse that is easy to miss if you are used to haphazard slapstick comedies from Bollywood. Trust me, there is nothing haphazard  or random in the way writer  Vipul Vig and directorMrighdeep Lamba spin a  destiny of disconcerting chaos around the characters.

 The narrative is piled  high with  breathless action,  a lot of it involving the characters running around the  narrow lanes and over-bridges  of Old Delhi.The cinematography(by Andres Menezes ) is  constantly  hunting down elusive dreams in crowded bustling roads.  For a large  part of  the  film the protagonists are  either being chased  or hunted down,  even in their dreams.Wet or otherwise.

In the opening sequence the film’s hero Bholi Punjaban—played with lipsmacking relish byRicha Chadha—appears  in Choocha’s dream as a snake. Rich Chadha’s ichadhaari naag act puts all her illustrious predecessors from  Rekha to Sridevi to shame. It’s the fun that she seems have while spoofing cinematic conventions while playing a gender-proof gangster(with two Black African henchmen by her side) that makes Chadha the most unconventional hero seen  in  a mainstream film.

 The boys seem to have a lot of fun being bossed around by Chadha’s (anything but)Bholi(ha ha) Punjaban. Their camaraderie is  palpably parodic , yet so real in a Punju-Delhi way that we feel we’ve met these badass blokes at the traffic light.

 Lamba directs the ensemble cast with verve  and affection, punctuating their exquisitely colloquial quips with unexpected  bouts of tenderness.While all the performances rate  a big shout-out of approval, and Richa Chadha’s Bholi Punjaban is   indeed  the film’s hero.She attacks the role  of  the woman in  command with the relish  of  a customer at a restaurant attacking a plate of succulent chicken legs.

  I must confess Varun Sharma’s Choocha is my  favourite  Fukrey actor.Sharma invests his part with a lot of foot-in-the-mouth heart.His Choocha is a lovable loser, an incorribledreamer and a  chronic disaster. Among the rest  of  the protagonists, Pulkit Samrat(very hero-material type but still not getting there), Pankaj Tiwari(always brilliant) and NavjotSingh(never out of  character) play their characters with a  mixture of gusto and desperation—just what the  film requires.

Special mention must be made  of  Rajiv Gupta as  the slimy politician with a  sidekick whom he makes do the most unmentionable demeaning acts  of  servility, a genre-specific villain that Gupta plays with such restrain and relish it’s like the filmy neta being rejuvenated in ways that are at once exciting and amusing.

And then there  is that striking cameo  of the river diver played  by Ashok Pathak—an obvious homage to the late Ashraful Haque’s  memorable cameo as the thief Shakiya in  the first Fukrey film.When Choocha nearly drowns and  Pathak must give him mouth-to-mouth to revive him, we nearly gag over the irony of the diver who goes down to fish for coins with his mouth in the river bed , putting his mouth to  more urgent if far less desirable, use.

Interestingly this is not the only bad-breath moment in  this film.We come across one earlier on when Pulkit’s  Hunny demands  a “French kiss”(that’s what he calls a liplock) from girlfriend (Priya Anand) and she refuses since he’s non-veg.

Bad breath gets a bad name in Fukrey. But  it’s all in  good taste. Circumscribing a world of chit  funds, bodypart smuggling, animal poaching and French kissing, the wickedly anarchic world of  Fukrey  Returns is much smarter and far more intelligent than  it outwardly seems . This is  a world of rapidfire happenings where what  goes around doesn’t necessarily come around.

At least , not in the way you expect  it to.

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