The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir movie cast: Dhanush, Erin Moriarty, Berenice Bejo, Barkhad Abdi, Hearty Singh
The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir movie director: Ken Scott
The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir movie rating: Two stars
The movie adaptation of Romain Puertolas’s action-adventure-fantasy novel The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir Who Got Trapped In An Ikea Wardrobe has Dhanush playing the fakir with magical powers, who, yes, gets trapped in a wardrobe, and yes, whooshes off on an adventure which involves trotting around world-famous furniture stores, the Eiffel Tower, a French actress, becoming the saviour of the poor and homeless, and so on and so forth.
How does all the to-ing and fro-ing, toplined by Dhanush, who has near-magical chameleon-like powers in real life to get into the skin of any and all roles he gets, stack up? The film is undeniably shiny, and quick-paced, but it is also unsubstantial: you feel it could have done with more filling-ins, more detailing. There’s a lot going on, but it doesn’t add to up to much. And the vexing question of displaced people is dealt with too simply, and simplistically.
For an Indian audience, there’s the added annoyance of brown-faced slum kids talking in English. We just about settle into it, and then comes the display of the kind of exotica which we thought had been deep sixed long back: a cow named Mohini makes special appearances here and there, and our hero who goes by the name of Ajatshatru Lavash Patel aka Aja is shown, yes, levitating. Yes, that famous Indian rope trick, minus the rope. But, hurrah, no snake charmers, so that’s something.
Being transported in a wardrobe from France to England leads Aja and a boatload of African illegals straight into the watchful arms of a British officer, who ships them off to Spain, and then onwards to other picturesque parts, including a dreary Libyan refugee camp. In between, Aja manages to lose his heart to a pretty American (Moriarty), but also manages to flub a date at the Eiffel Tower, making it fully an affair to remember.
Some of the portions do charm, especially when Berenice Bejo shows up as a canny helper-outer of Aja, who returns the favour by steering Bejo towards her one true love. And funnily enough, for a film which is an international co-production ( France-India-Belgium) whose clear intention must have been to stay far away from formula, it has the most zing when the characters are singing and dancing to vigorously choreographed numbers.
Bejo’s toothy smile is a delight, but she waltzes off too soon. What saves the film is the twinkly life-is-tough-but-all-can-be-well sincerity of Dhanush. He really does have extraordinary powers to please even when he is doing nothing special.