Fukrey turned out to be the kind of film that has a person giggling alone at an unholy hour past midnight while recalling a line spoken by one of its characters. On some level Excel Entertainment—the company that produced Fukrey—delivered India’s first modern slacking-themed film with Dil Chahta Hai in 2001. But whereas that film ended up having a significant bit of plot development related to its various characters, Fukrey plays the majority of its run time for gags, quirky character appearances, and a weird second-half reversal that gives the narrative some impetus—but that’s not what this film was about, it’s just the icing on top.
It is mostly the story of Hunny (Pulkit Samrat) and Choocha (Varun Sharma) two Delhi dudes who dream about going to college because that’s where all the ‘action’ is. But it is also the story of Lali (Manjot Singh), an earnest young man who graduated high school but didn’t get grades good enough for college. Which means he has trouble keeping the attention of his college-going girlfriend. And finally there is Zafar (Ali Fazal) a young man graduated from college but unable to earn a living because he is obsessed with becoming a musician.
At a certain point in time it turns out that all four need money, and significant enough money that they need to pull off a big scheme to score that kind of cash. And this is when they fall afoul of Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadda), a local gangster.
I’m certain I benefited from the Law of Low Expectations while watching this movie. I was entertained by Hunny and Choocha’s interactions, amused by Lali’s constantly earnest striving, and impressed by the staging and cinematography (K. U. Mohanan) of several sequences. I got the sense that I was seeing a Delhi not presented in the tourist guidebooks and that added to my enjoyment of the film.
The cast is uniformly good with perhaps only Mr. Fazal having to work with an underwritten character. Mr. Singh nails down the part of the earnest Sardar and his character has got to be the nicest guy in the film, even when he’s assuming that his teacher (Vishakha Singh) has a crush on him, or when he’s dealing with a drunk who keeps stealing parts from his motorcycle.
Mr. Sharma’s was probably the breakout performance from this film—and he is very good as Choocha but it bears saying that Mr. Samrat had the harder job in that relationship. He was tasked with being the ‘stud’ who has to romance a girl (Priya Anand), interpret his friend’s crazy looping dreams—you need to watch the movie to understand what I mean, and he’s got to manage all of this without coming off like a conventional Bollywood hero. And I have to say he pulls it off.
Final Analysis: Director Mrigdeep Singh Lamba and screenwriter Vipul Vig have managed to pull off an easygoing comedy that I suspect will age pretty well. We live in a world where it has become increasingly difficult to remember anything about a Bollywood movie seconds after leaving the theatre, so this is a worthwhile achievement.
My Advice: Catch this one for sure. It has a clever little plot at its centre and lots of wry comedy around that kernel of narrative.