Banners: M! Capital Ventures, Brio Films, Little Red Car Films, Impact Films
Producers: Saurabh Gupta, Gulzar Inder Singh Chahal, Aditi Anand, Samir Gupta, Luc Bossi, Jaime Mateus-Tique, Gregoire Lassalle, Genevieve Lemal
Director: Ken Scott
Cast: Dhanush, Bérénice Bejo, Erin Moriarty, Barkhad Abdi, Ben Miller, Gerard Jugnot, Amruta Sant, Hearty Singh
Writers: Romain Puertolas and Luc Bossi; with the collaboration of - Ken Scott
Music: Amit Trivedi (India), Nicolas Errera (International)
There have been many movies about travel around the world, some whimsical, some hardcore adventurous and some unbelievable. Most of these stories have one in thing in common – they are about hope and the victory of the human spirit over adversity. The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir is all of the above, and then some.
A young Ajatashatru Lavash Patel aka Aja lives in a slum with his mother. His life is restricted to his home and school, and everything in between. But when he chances upon an international furniture store catalogue, he re-imagines his surroundings and dreams of living that rich life some day.
He and two of his cousins decide to tread the ‘street magic’ path to make the extra buck. Things take an unexpected turn when his mother passes away and leaves behind memories of his French father. Determined to find him, Aja reaches Paris.
His first halt is the furniture store that he always dreamt of visiting. There he meets Marie and instantly falls for her. The attraction is mutual and he promises to meet her the next evening at the Eiffel Tower. Once again, destiny takes a funny turn. Not having any place to stay, Aja sleeps inside a cupboard. Coincidentally, that very cupboard is transported to London! From there he travels to many countries, meets some illegal immigrants and even an international actress.
Adapting a book into a movie is always a challenge. However, in the case The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir, the writer of the novel, Romain Puertolas, was part of the screenplay writing process. So the authenticity of the book has largely been maintained. The narrative is breezy for most of its 100-minute run time, except for a few scenes that seem a tad stretched.
There are three songs in the film and Amit Trivedi has done a fantastic job. But it is the Madaari track that really stands out. With nearly the entire film in English, the lead actor breaking into a song in Hindi seems out-of-place. Director Ken Scott has kept the treatment of the film light, even though it talks about serious issues like immigration and destitute children. The film achieves what it sets out to say – it is a story of hope and positivity, but there was definite scope to make the film less frivolous.
This is a Dhanush show all the way. He embraces the character of Aja wholeheartedly and gets under the skin of the fakir with ease. Everything he does makes you fall in love with Aja and you get involved in his story immediately. His presence on screen is endearing and the actor once again proves that there isn’t a character that he cannot turn himself into.
Erin Moriarty as Marie plays her part well. She is pleasant and lovable. Bérénice Bejo, as the actress, has a fun track and makes full use of what is offered to her. Barkhad Abdi as the immigrant has some good scenes with Dhanush and shines in them. Amruta Sant as Aja’s mother is competent and does a commendable job.
Verdict: Worth a watch!
Rating: ** ½