It’s rare for a Bollywood production house to make a sequel to a film without rebooting the IP. The casual disregard for serialized storytelling is actually baffling. So, it comes as a pleasant shock when we see a Hindi film actually continuing the story of the characters that were established in the first movie and trying to expand their horizons. But that is the bare minimum that is expected from a franchise. There are no real points for doing something that movie series around the world have been doing for decades. And this is where Fukrey comes in. The first film, which came out in 2013, had a never-before-seen set of characters who were played brilliantly by the actors and it had a gimmick that was unique. The second film had a different gimmick, and Fukrey 3 also has a new gimmick. However, the franchise refuses to let its characters mature along with the age of the actors portraying them.
Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s Fukrey 3, which has been written by Vipul Vig, opens with an extensive recap of the first two movies. And it’s not a very creative recap. They literally show the events of those two films, which makes it seem like Vig and Lamba are afraid that the audience won’t remember the events or they won’t be invested enough to rewatch the first two films before entering the theater. Anyway, Bholi Punjaban has joined politics and intends to become the head of the water resources department in Delhi. Hunny, Choocha, Lali, and Panditji’s electronics shop is in shambles. So, they’ve resorted to finding lost or stolen items by using Choocha’s “Deja-chu” power, which allows him to locate the future of the said item. Bholi Punjaban needs to arrange a crowd, and the “fukras” need the money. That’s why the boys agree to handle Bholi’s election campaign. Surprisingly, Choocha becomes an audience favorite, and Bholi fails to keep up with his popularity. Bholi begins to panic because she has made a promise to the water mafia lord, Dhingra, to win the election and let him access Delhi’s waters. And to make matters worse, Hunny jumps the gun and makes Choocha an actual election candidate.
Fukrey 3 wants to talk about the water crisis in Delhi. What does it want to say about the water crisis in Delhi? There are gangsters like Dhingra who hoard water and then sell it to the highest bidder, who then sell it at astronomical prices, and the common folk have no option but to suffer. The people need someone who can push back against these corrupt practices and serve those who vote for them (and even those who don’t vote for them) instead of serving the capitalist overlords. Since there are only a handful of Bollywood films (Well Done Abba, Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, etc.) that have tackled this topic, even though it is a crisis that is killing people as we speak, Vig should be applauded for shining a light on this nationwide issue. But once we are done with that, we should ask Vig why he decided to dumb it down with petrol made out of urine, sweat, and a South African diamond stuck in Choocha’s stomach. I understand the need to stay true to the franchise’s absurdist roots. However, isn’t the act of evolving Choocha’s powers from a case of pure coincidence to pure science fiction too much?
As someone who watches too many weird movies on a daily basis, I don’t really mind Choocha and Hunny fusing their bodily fluids to become a source of fuel. Lamba and Vig are purposefully swinging for the fences to make us laugh. It’s everything else about Fukrey 3 that irks me. The jokes are just not good. There’s not a single line that is funny, and even if it is funny, it has been spoiled by the trailer. The slapstick gags are not well conceived. They do not have any edge or originality. Talking about originality, I hate the fact that Lamba makes a concerted effort to recreate memes. Movies, especially those in the comedy genre, shouldn’t use memes to elicit laughter. That’s probably one of the cheapest forms of comedy. Just think about it. A viral moment exists on the internet, and the film is using it as a moment within a scene even though the characters aren’t constantly on any kind of social media. It doesn’t make any sense, and it feels way too derivative. Movies (or any kind of visual media) should focus on telling a story. If the audience loves it, they’ll organically create memes out of it.
The pacing of Fukrey 3 is really off. Every time someone makes a joke, there’s a barrage of reaction shots, or editor Manan Ashwin Mehta simply pauses the film to let the punchline settle in. Little does he know that the joke has missed its mark by a few miles, and he is subjecting the theater to several minutes of awkward silence. The most awkward moment though comes during the concluding moments of the film, when Pankaj Tripathi looks at the camera and indicates that Zomato has paid the producers to do product placement. It’s really jarring, and it isn’t smart enough to surprise viewers. That said, what hurts the film the most is the character writing. Ten years have passed between the first film and this one, and yet everyone talks and acts like they did 10 years ago. If this was an animated film where the age of the characters wasn’t evident, I would’ve overlooked it. But I can see that these middle-aged dudes are behaving like teenagers, and that’s not appealing. What’s the problem with letting your characters age with the actors? Is it difficult to give them an ounce of maturity or self-awareness? Aren’t they allowed to show any form of internal or external development? It’s low-key depressing.
The writing obviously impacts the performances a lot. Between Fukrey and Fukrey 3, Pankaj Tripathi has crafted an elaborate filmography, both on the small screen and the big screen. But in his third appearance as Panditji, he fails to be memorable. He is made to say the most obvious things and react to stuff in such unimaginative ways. Pulkit Samrat does what he has been doing throughout his career. It is not bad, but there’s nothing in particular that I can point to and say “that’s good.” Varun Sharma is stuck in limbo, making the same stupid faces and uttering every piece of dialogue in that annoying tone. Manjot Singh is watchable. I related to his frustration with suffering through the events of the film. Richa Chadha is watchable. The movie doesn’t test her acting range, but Chadha is so amazing that even if he sleepwalks through a role, it becomes iconic. Amit Dhawan, as Dhingra, is the only one who seems to be doing something interesting to stand out. Am I going to remember him after leaving the theater? No. As for the supporting cast, all I’ll say is that they’ve done a good job with the material at their disposal.
In conclusion, Fukrey 3 isn’t a good movie. It has a good movie somewhere hidden underneath its bad jokes and poor pacing. If the 150-minute-long slog was cut down to a 90-minute affair, it could’ve been a decent third entry in this franchise that has achieved some degree of success. But what’s the point of thinking about what could have been and what would have been? We have to judge what is in front of us, and what’s in front of us is a bore. Is it better than most of the Bollywood comedy franchises that aimlessly flail around to recapture the magic of their originals? Sure. At least, it’s visually creative sometimes. Is that enough to give the movie (or the franchise) a try? Well, I think the first film is the best one. So, you can watch that and call it quits. You won’t miss out on anything. With all that said, what you’ve read is just my opinion. Feel free to check out Fukrey 3 at your nearest theater, form your own opinion, and share your thoughts with us.