Boys in distress

No hope, no girls, no scope—words from the monotonous theme song of Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s Fukrey. The four protagonists, Hunny (Pulkit Samrat), Lali (Manjot Singh), Zafar (Ali Fazal) and Choocha (Varun Sharma), are about what they don’t have and want to have, rather than what they are. As characters, they are flat. Like many movies about the maturing and mellowing of obnoxious men just past their teens, Fukrey’s premise is the desire for mediocrity and what college campuses decide is “coolness". These are boys without much hope. They are backbenchers and dreamers conscious and accepting of systemic corruption—intellectually impotent and hence, seemingly “lifelike".

The buddy movie in Hindi cinema, in surfeit in recent times, always rests on the comical charm of floozy men, and Fukrey is no different. Lamba extracts his humour from the academically challenged boys’ desperate fraudulent measures to get ahead in life. The story’s backdrop consists of corrupt and depraved ministers, thieves, money-minded teachers, and the unspoken premise that the only way to survive and rise above middle-class circumstances is to be part of a circle of cheats—the kind of vapid, humdrum thinking that abounds in our film writing.

Choocha and Hunny have been making money from the lottery, their wins explained by a fuzzy logic related to Choocha’s dreams. They try to get Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadda), a foul-mouthed pimp and drug-seller, to lend them money for lottery tickets. She agrees, on her terms. Trouble ensues.

The humour is literal and over-stressed; music and sound effects punctuate almost every punchline. In some scenes it works wonderfully, but the loose story and unnecessarily prolonged scenes are its undoing. Some gaping holes are left unexplained.

In keeping with the tone—verboseness, accompanied by a hammering music score—the lead performances are all histrionics, but competent enough. Varun Sharma and Manjot Singh are convincing as moronic boys lost in possibilities. Lamba exaggerates one quality of each character to establish them as different from each other, and unites them in the grand cheating scheme. Chadda’s character is characterized by a neurotic sort of pluck and brazenness. She makes the boys grovel and beg. In her small oeuvre, Chadda is already typecast in the role of the tough, screaming woman. Bholi Punjaban, who unleashes her sardonic ferocity in a mirror-surrounded gym, is the film’s only memorable character.

Fukrey had potential as a quirky comic caper. It ends up as a boring watch.

Fukrey released in theatres on Friday

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