Film: 'Ferrari Ki Sawaari'; Starring: Sharman Joshi, Boman Irani, Ritvik Sahore;
Directed by: Rajesh Mapuskar; Rating:***
This is 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' without Munna, though there are plenty of low brow Bhais' zipping around in and out first-time director Rajesh Mapuskar's blithe frames in search of that elusive feeling of innocence we seem to have lost in our cinema ever since Hrihikesh Mukherjee passed away.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Raj Kumar Hirani and now their associate, the debutant director Rajesh Mapuskar try to keep the tradition of Mukherjee's mellow-mirth alive. Ferrari succeeds in parts. The dialogues in Ferrari lack the punch of Hirani's Munnabhai films. Yup, the heart is still in the right place. And the first 25 minutes of the film where we see the women-less Parsi family of three generations of grandfather (Boman Irani), father (Sharman Joshi) and son (Ritvick Sahore) trying hard to smile through their dysfunctionality, seems so well co-ordinated in texture mood and emotions that you are kind of lulled into believing you are watching another fine Vindhu Vinod Chopra film on the absence of humanism and redemption of the soul.
Sharman Joshi as the clerical father trying to create an even balance between his eccentric father (Boman, crabbily credible) and his young cricketer son, reminded me in a strange way of Raj Kapoor in 'Kal Aaj Aur Kal' where three generations of Kapoors had played grandfather, father and son.
In 'Ferarri Ki Sawaari' the three actors are unrelated in real life. And yet they look so much like a family together that you start believing in the power and magic of pop-art to create a world where human emotions can be generated through sheer evocation of authentic emotions in a cinematic language. Mapuskar gets the actors to pitch in believable performances. But after a point the actors are lost in a maze of scenes that must have appeared humorous on paper. On screen they just about make you smile feebly.
Sharman Joshi, a very fine actor who in one brilliantly-written sequence in '3 Idiots' had scored over all his distinguished co-stars, here uses his bovine smile to cover all the pain of being a single parent with no support system, certainly not from his father who seems to enjoy sitting around at home making snide comments. You know the annoying octogenarian type.
You know these people. This family, its problems mainly money-related, are real. And when Kayoze's cricket coach (Satyadeep Mishra, credible) announces a trip to England for cricket coaching your heart sinks for Sharman's character.
This is where the film's well-intended satire on middleclass desperation begins to go seriously wrong. The hare brained scheme of stealing Sachin Tendulkar's Ferrari for a gangster's wedding goes as wrong within the characters' lives as it does on the level of the screenplay.
Most of the purported giggles regarding the inglorious under belly of gangsterism is sadly more wonky than whimsical. Here too there is a redemptive factor. Veteran television actress Seema Bhargava (remember her on the legendary Doordarshan soap 'Humlog'?) as the loud-mouthed wedding planner is squirmy in her cheesy machinations. You just can't help falling in love with the character's excessive exuberance.
Honestly, the film is hard to dislike. It has moments of immense warmth and humour. Ironically the plot betrays its own interests when it tries to blend bourgeois aspirations with a Walt Disney brand of fantasy. So we have one song devoted to a flying Ferrari where father and son ride the clouds. Equally uninspired is Vidya Balan's lavni item song. Either she didn't practice her dance steps. Or the choreographer didn't turn up on the day of the shoot. Vidya's has got to be the worst item song in living history.
You tend to forgive the omissions and the sagging passages in the narration. What stays with you is the muted expressions of working-class dynamics shot and edited with a precision that makes domesticity acquire its own unique rhythm.
This is one sweet tender sawaari, a journey into the hopes, dreams and heart breaks of a family of cricket-centric Parsis. You may miss that jadoo ki jhappi here that made Munnabhai a household name. But you can't miss the noble intentions that underline the work's most precious moments when the Parsi family interacts in its quaint house. Wish they never stepped out.
In a way Balan's item song symbolizes what goes wrong with the film. Too much faith in the USPs.