What a lovely film Finding Fanny is. A simple story told with what appears to be no frills, this ensemble piece really does stand out for all the right reasons. I liked that the film was very self-assured without being arrogant and created an imaginary world where every single detail had been worked out – even down to the items cluttering the sideboard in Ferdie’s bungalow. It was also interesting how quickly I became accustomed to the actors delivering their dialogues in English – whilst this may have taken the film further away from what is considered regular commercial cinema, it added an all important note of authenticity and an interesting dimension to the film.
Finding Fanny is a film that needs to be seen a few times to be appreciated – there are small strands running parallel to the main story which form crucial components to the screenplay yet it feels impossible to appreciate all of these in one sitting. I liked how this gave Finding Fanny a strong sense that these characters all had a past and when the film ends, a future too; there is no happily ever after in this imaginary place – life goes on, warts and all.
Speaking of characters, there was no weak link in the cast. Kapoor is suitably moody and brooding as the heartbroken Savio whilst Kapur steals the show at times with his lecherous turn as Don Pedro. Shah is fantastic as Ferdie, showing vulnerability and an earnestness that is carefully pitched so that it never outstays its welcome but hits the mark each time. Meanwhile, Kapadia has fun as Rosalina whilst Padukone’s evolution as an actress of substance continues full steam ahead with a touching performance that stands shoulder to shoulder with the others.
It is tempting to try to categorize Finding Fanny – is it offbeat, world cinema or art cinema? The answer is all of the above and more. Hindi cinema has always had the unique ability to encapsulate a plethora of seasons within a short space in a way that entertains and engages. What Finding Fanny works towards is presenting this familiar cosmos in a very different way and the good news is that it largely succeeds. Whilst this may all feel unfamiliar and new now, I would not be surprised if Finding Fanny encourages many more films to be made which challenge the status quo and take viewers to a new place altogether. For now, give this film a chance – definitely amongst the best of 2014.