The luckless East Delhi drifters who have delivered two hits (the second one infinitely less convincing than the first) drift much further than they have ever done before – all the way to South Africa. What happens to the Jamna paar lads there – and thereafter – promises to change their fortunes for good, but it does the third instalment of Excel Entertainment’s Fukrey franchise no palpable good.
Fukrey 3, written by Vipul Vig and directed by Mrighdeep Singh Lamba, scrapes the bottom of the barrel in search of inspiration, which is an inevitability in an exercise that may have outlived its utility or is, at the very least, crying out for a major overhaul.
Fukrey 3 is an unfunny caper that tries very, very hard to muster up the comic energy of Fukrey, released a decade ago, and Fukrey Returns (2017). Not only does the effort show, it yields precious little. The boys were in high school when we first them – the actors playing the parts were all of ten years younger and their callow brushes with dreams and disasters were that much more convincing.
In their next outing, the Fukrey boys made it to college but did nothing to mend their ways. Six years on, one would have expected them to have grown up and turn a tad worldly wise. No, they are still stuck in the past. Trouble is that their puerile ways are no longer as cute as the visions of the guileless Choocha once were.
Choocha’s gift – he can see what nobody else can – takes a backseat as Fukrey 3 seeks fresh pastures and finds none, not even in South Africa, where the boys end up in a diamond mine and discover the value of hydrocarbons. Biofuel assumes a whole new meaning as another of Choocha’s leaps of faith hands them a key to what promises to be an unprecedented flow of riches.
Ideas that once seemed wonderfully novel – a Jamna paar slacker comedy itself was a marked departure from Bollywood norm – are clearly now running low on steam. The scriptwriter pushes in a direction that requires him to overstretch Hunny, Choocha and Lali’s escapades.
The screenplay turns the spotlight on Delhi’s water crisis and on a greedy man who owns a fleet of tankers and seeks to profit from draining Delhi dry. That is a dead serious issue but it isn’t a perfect fit for a wayward comic romp. The writer throws a whole bunch of things into the mix but never hits the sweet spot that helped propel the first film of the franchise to sleeper hit status.
Much of the humour in Fukrey 3 hinges on toilets, excrements and biofluids. Once the hurly-burly is done, one of the characters calls it a ‘parivarik film’. Indeed, Fukrey 3 aims to provide ‘clean’ fun but it never snaps out of its obsession with trashy humour.
The gags rarely land and the actors, who know what is expected of them in this messy affair, are left to do the cleaning up. It isn’t a pretty sight for sure. Something resembling a love triangle involving Choocha is thrown in for good measure but to little effect.
The guy is caught between his crush on Bholi and a South African girl’s infatuation with him. But his bum chum Hunny’s love interest goes missing in Fukrey 3, and that allows no scope for a fresh riff on the memorable Ambarsariya number from Fukrey.
A few of the non-sequiturs that Pankaj Tripathi spouts may tickle the funny bone a touch, especially because of the deadpan manner in which he tosses them off, but there isn’t much else in the film that is genuinely uproarious.
Fukrey 3 struggles to derive hilarity from the misadventures of Hunny (Pulkit Samrat), Choocha (Varun Sharma), Lali (Manjot Singh) and Panditji (Pankaj Tripathi) as they try to get the better of Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadha).
The Fukrey boys’ desperate and unedifying attempts to get out of the trough that their life is stuck in see them dig an even deeper hole for themselves. The tiger from Fukrey Returns gives way here to an alligator that snaps at the heels in a water park.
Ali Fazal’s Zafar sits this one out, barring a cameo at the fag-end of the film that sets the stage for a fourth Fukrey film. The spotlight of Fukrey 3 is predominantly on Choocha, with Hunny, the simple-minded, mishap-prone dreamer’s best pal, and Lali, who grows increasingly cynical, playing second fiddle.
Bholi Punjaban is an election candidate from an East Delhi constituency where municipal services have gone from bad to worse. She is in cahoots with the city’s tanker mafia and has her sights set on the jal sansadhan (water resources) ministry so that she can benefit financially by engineering a scarcity.
The pitch is queered for her when Choocha jumps into the poll fray and poses a threat to Bholi’s chances of winning. The lady does some quick thinking and hatches a plan to get her rival out of the way.
The promise of a deal lures Hunny, Choocha, Lali and Panditji to South Africa. They land in Cape Town, where they are received by Shinda (Manu Rishi Chadda) and his wife (Geeta Agrawal), who own a diamond mine.
Neither the two Indians in South Africa nor the actors playing them receive much play. They hop in and out of the film – they even pursue Choocha to Delhi – without serving any abiding purpose. Thanks to his ability to ‘foresee’, Choocha stumbles upon a diamond. He is caught in the act of pocketing it. He swallows the stone, another recipe for disaster.
Varun Sharma dominates the proceedings, but Choocha’s antics have lost their power to raise a chuckle. Eye rolls are all they are likely to get. Pulkit Samrat and Manjot Singh are reduced to glorified bystanders in Fukrey 3. Richa Chadha goes through the motions in a manner of somebody who has had enough of the increasingly repetitious rigmarole. So have we.
Varun Sharma, Pulkit Samrat, Richa Chadha, Pankaj Tripathi and Manjot Singh