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‘Fukrey’: The UKAsian Review

The dubious title of this film takes care of the shoe-string publicity budget; but pronounce “Fukrey” as you like, it delivers on that underlying promise of laughs.

Hunny (Pulkit Samrat) and Choocha (Varun Sharma) are over-grown Delhi schoolboys caught up in a breezy teenage bromance.  Time has now come for them to take the plunge into college life, albeit a few years too late.  The driving force behind this urge is less to do with career choices and more to do with breaking free of the shackles of school uniforms to flirt with “perfumed” college girls. 

The only hitch is the elusive 85% grade barrier to university life.

The prospect of a leaked exam paper brings them in contact with two similar fukrey (skint) creatures – “sardarji” Lali (Manjot Singh) and Zafar (Ali Fazal).  The former gets attracted to the idea of a leaked exam paper to ensure entry into the same college as his childhood sweetheart before she gets seduced by the charms of her hunky classmates. 

Zafar, a struggling musician, joins their quest for money to buy that paper for a far more serious plight – his paralytic father’s urgent need of medical treatment.

With the help of fixer Panditji (Pankaj Tripathi), the boys-to-men hatch a misguided plan to raise the big bucks.  The fact that the entire scheme rests on Hunny’s interpretation of Choocha’s sadistic dreams to pick out the day’s lucky lottery ticket number doesn’t seem far-fetched to any of them.

They get caught up into the warped world of ball-busting Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadda), the lynchpin of an empire that spreads across prostitution and drugs to online fraud.  As she draws the foursome into her web of intrigue, the seemingly simple money-making scheme soon starts to unravel.

The plot is clearly short on substance, with some sequences played to a ridiculous extreme.  But the strength of the film lies in some of the well-timed one-liners that cash in on quintessential Delhi crassness to great effect.

It is packed with some equally punchy performances by actors unlikely to remain little-known for too long after the release of this film.  Chadda, who impressed with her bolshy turn in ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, lives up to her promising debut as the conniving brothel madam this time.

Samrat has the right mix of boyish charm and Delhi cockiness and his sidekick, Sharma, is hilarious as the buffoon with some of the best lines. 

Fazal, the suicidal Joy Lobo from ‘3 Idiots’, also fits well into the character of an ageing college student with a guitar.

Bollywood fans are in for a nostalgic ride with some popular tunes from ‘Satte Pe Satta’ and ‘Saudagar’ used as clever gags.  Just make sure you leave your analytical mind behind and be prepared for some light-hearted fun.

It will become obvious why ace filmmaker Farhan Akhtar was willing to bet some of his cash on this modestly-budgeted production.

– Aditi Khanna

Aditi Khanna is the Editor of India Incorporated (www.indiaincorporated.com) and London Correspondent of the Press Trust of India.

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