Film: “The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir”; Director: Ken Scott; Cast: Dhanush, Erin Moriarty, Barkhad Abdi and Berenice Bejo; Rating: **
An Indo-French-Belgian co-production, director Ken Scott’s “The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir”, adapted from French writer Romain Puetolas’ novel of a similar title, is a picaresque chronicle of a poor Indian street performer who hoodwinks his audience.
Set in Mumbai, this intermittently entertaining fable is told mostly in flashback by a teacher Ajatshatru Lavash Patel aka Aja (Dhanush), who was once a fake and a fraud ‘poor boy’ and wanted to become rich. It is his story, his journey from being a pauper to a millionaire and back to owning nothing. The tale unravels in the most lazily crafted and whimsical manner, which is neither appealing nor enthusing.
The narrative begins with Aja being curious to know about his non-existent father. He pesters his mom till she shows him some letters and tells him that he is in France. So after the untimely death of his mother, Aja embarks on a journey to Paris to find his estranged father, after stealing money from his mentor-cum-gang lord, Giri.
Armed with a fake passport and a 100 Euro note, he lands in Paris where he meets an assortment of characters who help him evolve as a human being and make him realise that home is where the heart is and money is not everything in life.
His adventures, which include travelling in a hot air balloon and as a stowaway, introduce him to a Parisian taxi driver Gustave Palourde (Gerard Jugnot), an American woman named Marie Riviere (Erin Moriarty) who works as a furniture shop executive with whom he falls in love, a Sudanese refugee named Wiraj (Barkhad Abdi) who he meets while travelling in a wardrobe to London, and an actress Nelly (Berenice Bejo) who he helps to reconnect with the first love of her life.
While the premise of the story is sweet and lovable, the execution of the film, glossed with all the trappings of a fantasy film is disappointing. The extent to which Aja connects to the characters varies wildly and his entire dealing with them appears rather flippant.
The music in silos is exciting but appears forced as it does not mesh seamlessly into the narrative.
On the performance front, Dhanush and the rest of the cast are charming and earnest. But their graph is what lacks heft.
Overall, the film appears like a cross-over film with the writing as its weakest or sore point.