Fanney Khan has a promising start. It positions itself just right, a man refusing to give up his dreams and firmly believing success will knock on his door at some point. The setting is perfect, one to which most viewers will easily identify. The characters are fleshed out beautifully. There is the undying optimism of Prashant Sharma aka Fanney Khan (Anil Kapoor) a singer who could never make it. He is ever hopeful of that success through his daughter. The daughter (Pihu Sand), on the other hand, unloads the frustrations of her struggles and body shaming on the only people she can – her parents. Add to that the lack of respect an unsuccessful man gets in the family and you can feel Fanney’s pain. Fanney’s wife Kavita (Divya Dutta) does not share her husband’s optimism and is concerned about compromises her daughter may be asked to make.
So when in desperation Fanney grasps at the sliver of hope he finds in Baby Singh (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), you almost root for him. He finds a partner in Adhir (Rajkummar Rao), a co-worker and friend who is being used by a starlet to serve her own purpose. Adhir is too love-struck and meek to hit back. The duo kidnap Baby Singh and I sit back hoping for a fun ride. Alas, the film goes straight downhill. From the get go, there’s no real kidnapping. The victim is amused rather than frightened or at least concerned. Even if you ignore the improbability of the way the kidnapping turns out, the film will pile on more far-fetched stuff one after another. Instead of money, Fanney’s ransom is a song recording for his daughter, there is no police in sight even while the news is flashing on TV, Fanney Khan is reduced to possibly the most stupid kidnapper ever on screen, the list goes on. At some point you give up hope of the film making sense at all. Going by the convoluted screenplay, you know that all will end well but it won’t matter anyway.
The film rests on Anil Kapoor’s shoulders and he easily manages the responsibility. All he wants is the best for his daughter, at any cost. He is a simpleton and the barbs don’t prick him much. Divya Dutta, has little screen time but performs well. Rajkummar Rao is excellent, but he disappears in the second half, perhaps to make space for Anil Kapoor. Aishwarya Rai is disappointing and it hurts the film massively. She has a pivotal part in the story but she falters. She can’t decide whether to treat the part as comedy or drama. As a result, she is neither funny nor convincing. From there on the whole story feels like a farce. The relationship between Adhir and Baby lacks chemistry and appears forced.
Pihu Sand, in contrast, delivers a reassured performance. She is excellent as a slightly angry teenager at odds with her father. She is able to show the hurt at rejections and ridicule for her weight without going overboard. She and Anil Kapoor together try to do their best to lift the film but this official remake of Everybody’s Famous! just refuses to fly.