The Fakir of Venice: Not Much to Miss in Farhan’s ‘Debut’ Film
The Fakir of Venice, Farhan Akhtar’s intended debut film, turned out to be lacklustre. 
The Fakir of Venice, Farhan Akhtar’s intended debut film, turned out to be lacklustre. (Photo: The Quint/Arnica Kala)

Review: The Fakir of Venice: Not Much to Miss in Farhan’s ‘Debut’ Film

‘The Fakir of Venice’ was intended to be Farhan Akhtar’s acting debut, but as the saying goes — man proposes and God disposes!

After tackling production-related issues, the film has finally released 10 years later. In the meantime, Mumbai and Venice have changed drastically, and we have already seen Akhtar push the envelope in far more challenging roles as an actor.

Apart from the intriguing title, what does the movie helmed by Anand Surapur offer and how does the fakir land up in the beautiful locales of Venice? Turns out, precious little.

At 1 hour 38 minutes, the promise of an interesting premise fizzles out as the story moves forward in a lumbering fashion.

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Adi Contractor, played by a plucky Farhan Akhtar, is a film production coordinator who is always hustling to fulfil the various assignments coming his way. Cut throat, smooth-talking and clinical in his money-making ways, Adi does everything from summoning elephants for a shoot to smuggling monkeys to help foreign filmmakers in their quest to showcase the exotic East.

When a gallery owner in Venice puts up a demand for a fakir who can bury himself head down in sand, Adi gets to the task immediately. The lure of euros prove too tempting for him to refuse. After a futile search in Varanasi, he manages to meet a Mumbai slum dweller Sattar, played by Annu Kapoor — a blue-colour worker doing odd jobs for a living. Sattar decides to join Adi on his mission after being egged on by his sister.

A major high point in the movie is seeing Kamal Siddhu — a 90s’ popular face on TV — who appears briefly as Adi’s ex-girlfriend.

What could have been an otherwise arresting satire about exotic spirituality that the West finds alluring ends up being a meandering mess.

Adi and Sattar agreed to be part of this con mission for individual reasons, which couldn’t have been more different. More than once, Adi mentions his desire of leaving India. He wants to use the money to fund his foreign education and travel. Sattar reveals how he has come to Venice to help his sister Hamida financially.

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The urban, fluent in English, suave talker Farhan Akhar displays his ease in front of the camera. He is effortless for most parts and skilfully manages to juggle between a mercenary and other times, an empathetic aide to Sattar.

Annu Kapoor, another fine performer, makes the most of the little he has to work with. A man fighting his own demons and on the verge of giving up, Kapoor is effective but the screenplay hardly supports him.

Apart from the outdated feel of the movie, budgetary constrains too pop up. Venice hasn’t looked this dull and Varanasi looks lacklustre. Moreover, the film’s lackadaisical storytelling and indulgent pace prove to be its ultimate undoing.

2 quints out of 5!

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