There's been a massive distinction between a 'festival film' and a 'commercial film' over the years. While the former earns laurels around the world, it always falls short of the moolah that their counterpart mints at the ticket windows. The 'extraordinary journey' of 'The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir' till now has always been on similar lines, creating waves across the globe with awards at film festivals in Norway and Spain. But can the Ken Scott directorial spring a surprise and be unanimously loved in the theatres too? Read here:
Ajatashatru Lavash Patel aka Aja (Dhanush) is the lone child of a single mother (Amruta Sant) in the slums of Mumbai. Aja is a curious kid, and wants to know everything, who his father is and if they were poor. He is convinced not just that they were indeed poor, but also that he didn't want to remain so all his life. Inspired by street performers using magic tricks to earn money, he becomes a 'Fakir', who defies gravity, makes things vanish and reappear, and tricks foreigners to earn a quick buck. His mother harbours a dream for the two to visit Paris someday. Aja grows up and just when he earns enough to fulfill the Paris dream, his mother dies. Her death finally reveals his decades-long question of who his father was, prompting him to set out to the French city with just a fake 100 Euro note.
'The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir' is the story of Aja's adventurous round-trip from Mumbai to Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Libya, and back to the Maximum City. From a Fakir in Mumbai, the street smart trickster lands in Paris and his love for home decor designs makes the visit to such a store his first stop in the French city.
Aja charms his way into the heart of Marie (Erin Moriarty). However, he's not able to fulfill his promise of meeting her at the Eiffel Tower the next day as dozing off in the store's wardrobe turns mightily costly for him.
He lands in England and after a cat-and-mouse encounter with cops and another song-and-dance interrogation with an officer, he is sent to Barcelona. There's no way out for Aja from the ‘modern prison’ including other immigrants until his constant efforts to escape bears fruit.
After the wardrobe, this time he fits himself into a suitcase as he reaches the house of an actress, Nelly (Berenice Bejo) in Rome. His story on a shirt impressed her so much that she helps him earn big bucks.
On the run from goons, Aja this time chooses a hot air balloon to go to Paris, but once again, gets stuck and lands at a refugee camp in Libya, where he performs the ‘biggest magic’ of his life.
Whether he succeeds in reuniting his parents and if he gets the love back, forms the rest of the story.
Like you'd expect from his Tamil masala potboilers, 'The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir' is a Dhanush show all the way. The actor is not a Greek God, but there's something very endearing about the way he looks and the manner he talks.
You will most probably be reminded of his characters in movies like 'Raanjhanaa' and 'Shamitabh.' Special mention to him for trying something different, unlike his contemporaries, who continue to play to the galleries. He does everything from tricking, charming and helping people brilliantly and is rightly the soul of the film.
The same, however, can't be said about the story. There are a lot of moments in the film that work and an equal number that doesn't. There's a lot happening throughout in this adventurous journey, but sadly most of it just happens without being convincing and without leaving an impact.
Aja's moments with his mother, pet cow Mohini and Marie are the highlights of the movie. While the entire track starting from an out-of-the-blue childhood story on a shirt in Rome, also including a Bollywood dance number, doesn't make sense. Nevertheless, the story somehow manages to get it to act together in the climax and ends up as a feel-good film.
The first thing you'll notice in the film is that people from the slums are speaking fluent English. Kudos to the makers for not trying to keep it 'real' by making the characters speak the local language and subtitling it, but instead using the language of the target audience. But then how do Hindi and Marathi still come in the picture? However, most of the dialogues are well-written and the situational ones will make you chuckle.
Music by Amit Trivedi is good. Locations and cinematography do justice to the story.
Overall, 'The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir' is not an 'extraordinary' film and has numerous glitches, but there are good chances of it turning out to be a one-time feel-good movie for you.
Cast: Dhanush, Amrutha Sant, Erin Moriarty, Berenice Bejo, Barkhad Abdi
What works: Dhanush's performance, dialogues
What doesn't: Unconvincing moments in the screenplay
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