A song becomes a classic when it strikes the right chords on an instrument, but also hits the heart. The soulful melody needs to marry the lyrics: when it comes to a film, the actors are important, as is the editing and direction, but they need to all work with a great script. Sadly, that marriage of elements is missing in musical film Fanney Khan.
The film is the story of a poor father who has unrealised musical ambitions of his own, but now dreams big for his daughter, a talented singer whose image is a stumbling block when it comes to the superficial music biz. This is an emotional subject in the hands of the seasoned Anil Kapoor: surely the perfect recipe? Even if it is an adaptation (of the Belgian movie Everybody's Famous).
But the ingredients - the script, the actors, the editing and direction - is where everything goes wrong, despite the best efforts of Anil as Prashant Kumar, or Fanney Khan.
Driven by his dreams for his daughter, the factory worker-turned-taxi driver abducts diva pop star Baby Singh (Aishwarya Rai). What follows is a jerky drive of a plot, lurching from one dark reality to another in the murky world of the entertainment industry. Debut director Atul Manjrekar tries to weave in sub plots, but ends up just making a mess.
The daughter Lata (Pihu Sand) is shown having only hate for her father. Barring one lame dialogue, where she says she wants a father who is willing to spend on her, there is nothing to explain her emotions. A mostly teary-eyed mother (Divya Dutta) tries valiantly to hold fort in such awkward scenes as the movie lurches on.
Adhir (Rajkummar Rao) also does his best on the lame character of Fanney Khan's innocent colleague and kidnapping co-conspirator. He is the gullible guy with cuteness overload, but once again the script fails in doing justice to the bond between him and Rai's diva Baby Singh.
Towards the end of the movie they just vanish, apparently on a holiday, and end up giving a pathetic parting message that was supposed to be the whole crux of the movie.
This couple's love is like a parallel track, while Anil Kapoor tries to single-handedly deal with Aishwarya's manager Karan Kakkad (Karan Chhabra) after the kidnapping, and sadly gets manipulated in return.
The ransom money at stake in the kidnapping gets converted into Fanney Khan's 'request' to get a song composed and sung by his daughter; the comic fool manager Kakkad turns master manipulator; the backstage ugly dealings that are a big hurdle get cleared with only a show of sarcasm about Lata's appearance; a happy ending gives off a message that chasing dreams is fine even if it means taking the law in your own hands - and all these script blunders hurt the movie.
Before the movie, Kapoor said he was indeed nervous about Manjrekar as a debut director, but that his fears proved unfounded. Sadly, Manjrekar has some way to go as a director, and a long way to go as the film's writer. We don't even get to know the meaning of 'Fanney' and what it is that makes Kapoor uncomfortable in the dual identities of Prashant Kumar and Fanney Khan.
Amit Trivedi's music, when he is not rehashing the old classical numbers for Kapoor, is also bland. You are also left to wonder why Hollywood choreographer Frank Gatson Jr had to be enlisted for Rai's entry song Mohabbat. She could herself do more graceful moves.
The light-hearted Fu Bai Fu - a parody-hash of dialogues, folk music and film titles - is enjoyable. But the finale song Tera Jaisa Tu Hai is average, and these are the best two songs of the musical film.
Kapoor had also said that when watching the Belgian original, he did not understand the language but had "a lump in the throat" over the subject matter.
Meanwhile, this one is just a big hole in the movie-goer's pocket, though. The only real boon is being able to watch Kapoor and Rai together after Taal (1999) and Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hain (2000).