Film Review: Fukrey
June 15, 2013
The production company that created the modern day bromance genre with Dil Chahta Hai and defended its reputation with films like Rock On!, and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara would seem perfectly fit to construct a comedy about a bunch of young guys in pursuit of making their dreams come true. Well-written characters, memorable dialogues, and the strong bond of bro-hood have defined the Excel Entertainment brand. Fukrey marks the company’s official foray into the ‘youth oriented’ space characterized by edgy, experimental content appealing to a younger demographic. And the recent success of zany comedies set in Delhi like Delhi Belly and Vicki Donor makes the Delhi-based Fukrey well positioned to generate much interest and deliver quality entertainment. But places where the aforementioned films succeeded, is exactly where this film failed.
Hunny (Pulkit Samrat) and Choocha (Varun Sharma) are friends who keep failing the 12th standard and dream of joining college strictly to chill with chicks. Like them, Lali (Manjot Singh) yearns to become an independent college goer and leave the drudgery of his family-owned restaurant. Zafar (Ali Fazal), the desi-emo college student hoping to make it as a professional singer must put aside his passion to take care of his ailing father. Being the fukrey these guys are (i.e., broke slackers with not much going for them) they devise a shortcut involving minimal work but requiring a large investment. What sort of plan do the dudes hatch? They rely on Choocha’s wacky dreams, and Hunny’s ability to decipher them, to guess winning lottery numbers that in the past has paid off in cash. The catch is that Choocha dreams infrequently, but if the guys play big the next time Choocha has a vision, they have the potential to make their individual dreams come true: Hunny, Choocha and Lali can pay the donation needed for admission, and Zafar can provide his father with quality healthcare. The fukrey put all their money on the line (Lali even hands over the deed to the restaurant) but even then they need help from a big fish to provide the required returns. Panditji (Pankaj Tripathi), who is literally and figuratively a college gatekeeper, introduces the lads to the Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadda), a brash n’ crass female gangster who runs a brothel and what looks like a Nigerian email scam. If the fukrey are able to manage shady characters and situations, they can hit the jackpot and transform their lives.
My guess is that director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba must have provided a similar synopsis to executives at Excel, and by showing interest in such a lackluster premise is proof that Excel unfortunately believed the winning formula for this genre is outside the universe that made films like DCH, Rock On! and ZNMD successful. Fukrey is a juvenile attempt riddled with plot holes, insipid jokes, and scenes that do nothing to move the story forward. Why do Lali, Zafar and the ruthless businesswoman Bholi Punjaban place so much faith and cash on Hunny’s promise of Choocha being a golden goose? So Hunny happily dresses up in drag to dance in front of an audience for money, only to back out because he doesn’t want to shave his chest? And why does Bholi Punjaban hand over a bag of ecstasy worth tens of thousands of rupees to guys to she just met to sell at a rave party? Furthermore, Fukrey isn’t even successful in making the city of New Delhi a key character the way Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Delhi Belly, and Vicky Donor did. Rather than adding flavor, culture and flair, Delhi does nothing more than provide a backdrop.
A highlight in the film is the melodious Punjabi number ‘Ambarsariya’, which plays in the background as Hunny flirts with his ladylove, Priya (Priya Anand). The song is a bit of ‘Masakali’ from Delhi 6 and a dash of ‘Pani Da Rang’ from Vicky Donor and manages to steal the limelight from the forgettable ‘Beda Paar’, which now has the distinction of being a Mika Singh song that will not be danced to at any wedding.
Pulkit Samrat, who was last seen as the lead in Bittu Boss has the looks of a leading man, but too often relies on his version of the Blue Steel pose to impress. Newcomer Varun Sharma is comfortable in front of the camera and shows a flair for comedy, but would have truly shined had the poor jokes not failed him. Manjot Singh continues to play the same character he did in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, and Priya Anand, who was the supportive niece in English Vinglish, has no real scope to charm this time around. The best performances come from Richa Chadda as the queen of illegal enterprises and Pankaj Tripathi as the connected gatekeeper. Both Chadda and Tripathi perform with ease and successfully navigate through a weak screenplay.
Fukrey highlights the fact that the makers who perfected the bromance formula forgot their own recipe and proves that making a comedy for a younger audience involves much more than a college, double entendres, females hurling expletives, and a Delhi dialect.