There’s something about Anil Kapoor. And the Indian audience got a taste of it in his first film as a lead actor, Woh Saat Din, and never stopped loving him. The actor went on to nail it as a quintessential Bollywood hero, and at the same time won critics over with films like Eeshwar, Saaheb, Mr India and Parinda. And reams have already been written about his powers to reinvent himself, be it on desi or foreign lands.
But come to think of it, Kapoor’s role in the upcoming Fanney Khan seems to be an extension of his character in the 1983 Woh Saat Din, where he also played a struggling singer. And in a way it’s a full circle for the actor - he just completed 35 years in the industry.
Fanney Khan - going by the trailer- seems to revolve around a failed musician whose dreams of becoming the next Mohammad Rafi flouders in the daily battle of survival. He ends up performing for a local orchestra instead, but is determined to make his singer daughter’s dreams come true.
Woh Saat Din’s Prem Pratap Singh Patiala Wale shares Fanney Khan’s passion for music. A young rustic man who refuses to become Mumbai smart, be it to get a room on rent or plagiarise music, Prem comes across almost as saintly in his dedication to his craft. He would sit in a park or on the terrace and lose himself to his music.
The scene where Fanney plays the saxophone alone on the terrace is almost like Prem Pratap on time travel.
Woh Saat Din was a very unusual choice for a debut lead role. Instead of the dashing hero Bollywood is used to, producer Surinder Kapoor (Anil’s father) introduced us to a seedha saadha gaon ka ladka, who was charming and lovable but hardly a hero. He was wooed by the girl, failed to impress anyone with his work, and was no match for goons. To top that, he was pitted against an equally good man (and the formidable actor that’s Naseeruddin Shah) in his bid to win the girl.
But what Prem Pratap Singh Patiala Wale did was to showcase Kapoor’s range as an actor. Whether it’s the comic bits or the emotional, Kapoor is a confident performer from scene one and never once does he falter beside Naseer.
And he infuses his performance with an innocence which he has surprisingly been able to retain even after 35 years (remember he’s the original “jhakaas” tapori too!).
Unfortunately, for a film with one character’s profession being music, Woh Saat Din has only one song - Pyar Kiya Nahi Jata - which has somewhat stood the test of time. Laxmikant-Pyarelal failed to create their customary magic with this one.
It remains to be seen whether Fanney Khan fares better, though it has two reprisals of old Bollywood hits, Jawan Hai Mohabbat and Badan Pe Sitare.
Incidentally, Kapoor played another memorable singer alongside his Fanney co-star Aishwarya Rai - as Vikrant Kapoor in Taal (1999). A far cry from the struggling musicians he plays in Woh Saat Din and Fanney Khan, Vikrant believes in showmanship over music and in money over all else.
Complete with swag and gold chains and tough-as-nails business deals, he’s a larger-than-life character in the film.
Fanney Khan promises to tell an emotional story with another riveting performance by Anil Kapoor. Would he better his Woh Saat Din and Taal outings?
We can’t wait to find out.