“The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir”… A sincere Dhanush is let down by this bland fantasy-drama

Posted on June 21, 2019


Spoilers ahead…

Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/the-extraordinary-journey-of-the-fakir-movie-review-dhanush-baradwaj-rangan

How many Indian stars have gone on to play the lead in a non-Indian film? This isn’t about Indian-origin actors like Dev Patel. This isn’t about actors like Shabana Azmi, primarily identified with art-house cinema and invited to play character roles in dramas like Madame Sousatzka. This is about a full-blooded mainstream star being cast as the protagonist. Three decades ago, Rajinikanth came close with Bloodstone, a poor man’s Indiana Jones adventure. But despite being directed by Hollywood’s Dwight H Little, the man behind such epics as Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home and the Steven Seagal-starring Marked for Death, it didn’t feel like a “Hollywood film.” It was set in India, and it featured many familiar Indian faces. Heck, Bob Christo showed up as a thug. The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, top-lined by Rajinikanth’s son-in-law, may be something of a landmark, then. It’s a true-blue international production, featuring international actors like Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips). But they play supporting roles. Dhanush is the film’s… VIP.

That, pretty much, is the good news. The rest of this fantastical (in concept) yet bland (in execution) drama, directed by Ken Scott, makes you wonder what was it about the original book — The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, by Romain Puertolas — that made it such a worldwide sensation. I haven’t read it, so I can only guess that the writing isn’t as flat as this film’s screenwriting, with information dumps posing as dialogue. (“Our families have been displaced by war…”) Every beat is hit extra hard, right from the opening scene of cutesy-wutesy babies in all colours. We are all born equal, a voiceover says, but then our lives become unequal due to the “tyranny of chance”. Some of us end up privileged. And some of us end up like Ajatashatru Lavash Patel (Dhanush), an impoverished Mumbai-ite. Through a series of improbable — though in the book, I suspect the word you’d use is “whimsical” — accidents, Ajatashatru finds himself in a cupboard, in a hot-air balloon, in Paris, in London…

Continued at the link above.

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