The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir
Cast: Dhanush, Barkhad Abdi, Bérénice Bejo
Director: Ken Scott
Have you never judged a story by its narrator and not its characters? The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir is one such story where the storyteller, despite being a major character, leaves you chaffing the truth from fiction.
A street smart Mumbai guy Ajatashatru Lavash Patel (Dhanush) offers a story to three slum kids who are in police custody. This story has turns and twists and all the major plot tropes of a make-believe fairy-tale, including exotic locations, the hope of being loved one day and song and dance.
Through planes, cruises and even a hot-air balloon, Ajatashatru takes us to Paris, where the air is filled with love 10 times more than rest of the world, Americans are searching their souls and playing characters in apparent and covert lives. Ajatashatru, with a charming smile and agile feet, keeps banking on his good ‘karma’ and some skills he acquired on those notorious life-altering Mumbai roads. He is out there to give us good life lessons and on occasions he gets it right, some laughs too.
Director Ken Scott’s perspective is as western as it could be—there’s a poor slum guy with a heart of gold, lungs of hope and feet of a peacock. You need something to hold him back so there is a mother and a beloved cow, since dogs are outdated. Or, maybe Scott couldn’t consider any other animal during his research on India.
It may also remind you of Zero and many other films where the protagonist’s innocence wins over beautiful, powerful women waiting for some oriental thrill and the onus is always on the poor guy to make such women realise their actual worth.
However, there are sequences where Scott goes truly global and puts forth his philosophy about world peace and harmony in the simplest manner. One such track involves Barkhad Abdi (that terrifying pirate from Captain Phillips), and what a comforting presence he has. Both, Abdi and Dhanush, glide without a glitch through their scenes. It’s smooth, fluid and quite natural. Also, very comforting for a film bordering on Aladdin without the magic carpet.
Those who have grown up on a staple Bollywood diet may not be very charmed with The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir but it might be a fun ride for hopeless romantics. Dhanush has got it right, so have the other cast members. It’s a well-made fantasy film with no extraordinary approach. Watch it if simplicity is what you’re looking for.
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