Books on writing tell you to develop your characters. Think about how they will behave, think of what they will do and the storyline will grow from there.
Finding Fanny puts together a bunch of characters, each with a little hidden story inside and some quirks of character that make them interesting enough to be followed on screen for a couple of hours and lets the story develop slowly around them.
The story line is simple. Ferdinand or Fernando, played by Naseerudin Shah, is a postmaster in a ramshackle little village. His long ago letter, proposing marriage to his juvenile hearthrob, Fanny ,is returned undelivered, after 40 years. The sight of the letter first produces grief for the 40 years spent thinking he has been rejected and then, hope arises, that maybe, maybe, Fanny could still be open to his proposal.
Abetted by the sweet, unfortunate young widow, Angelina, (Deepika Padukone) he decides to set off to look for Fanny and propose again. He needs a car for the journey. His eyes fall on an old car which is being fixed by Savio De Gama (Arjun Kapoor), a brooding young man, just returned from Bombay. Savio is persuaded by Angelina to act as driver. Rosy , Angelina’s mother in law, played wonderfully by a well padded Dimple Kapadia, comes along to protect her. Don Pedro, ( Pankaj Kapoor) as owner of the car , exercises his right to join them , secretly hoping that his obsession to paint the buxom Rosy will find fulfillment. The final passenger is Rosy’s white cat, seated on Fernando’s lap who is to meet her sudden end.
They set forth on an adventure which grows into a story about going forth to seek love. The misunderstandings that arise from bottling up feelings. When this bunch of sad, ordinary , rather bored people get out of their ruts; things start changing in their lives.
The nuances of each character are brought out by the strong actors. There are little human sequences throughout that surprise and delight. Deepika going among the chickens and unsqueamishly chopping up one for dinner. Savio looking hungrily at her. A little kid giving the finger. The artist chasing Rosy unceasingly only to finally surprise her. Ferdinand setting off in search of petrol reluctantly hoping someone else will volunteer to go with him but knowing he must go because this is His adventure. He goes and comes back and sees that the other people are merely coming with him. But he has to make his journey .
The movie is set in Goa, where people have the license to be mad and overboard and do whatever they wish to and live life in excess – we think , we who do not live there. The landscape of Goa is lovingly portrayed, golden and green and serene. The music is fresh and different. Above all, there is a streak of the absurd throughout the movie that lifts it above boring.
The story ends with their discoveries about each other, shocks and rearrangement of thoughts which have been around for a long time in their minds. And they start anew on different journeys with happiness. A movie with charm.
I got to see this movie with a group of women from my fitness class. Opinions were strongly divided about the merits of the movie. Too long, dragging, were some of the comments. Some people were disappointed because it was about a bunch of ordinary people with no special heroic tendencies. But overall, everyone enjoyed the camaraderie of going out with a group of friends, the lovely visual feeling that still lingers with a very different journey of a few hours.