If Love, Actually had a child with Around the World in Eighty Days, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir would be that child. It throws its trickster and street magician protagonist Aja (Dhanush) into a chain of unexpected adventures. He meets a diverse group of people from a celebrity to mobster-like big guys to a swindling cab driver to refugees who all make a great impression on him. Aja has a mission: to make his late mother and his dream of going to Paris come true and to meet his father who lives there.
During his journey, he falls in love with Marie (Erin Moriarty), an American expatriate in Paris, and how he catches her attention is sweet – role playing in the IKEA showrooms where they meet. They arrange to meet at night at the Eiffel Tower, but sleeping in a wardrobe at IKEA leads Aja to cross borders, thanks to outside forces. How will he ever get back to Paris, fulfill his mother’s wish and his promise to Marie, and meet his father?
The film is cleverly structured by the storytelling framing technique and keeps this refreshing through colourful visuals to show Aja’s imagination and gift of storytelling. The locations are a feast to the senses. Seeing Paris and Italy and their romantic ambiance, and chaotic yet charming India make you feel like you’re really in those places. While it’s a light-hearted comedy, the film balances this with genuine, deep emotional and still growing characterisation, and the timeless message of love and hope conquering selfishness and despair.
While the LGBT+ representation leaves much to be desired, the film sensitively includes various people of marginalised backgrounds and cultures without shying away from showing how colourful or bold they are. It also doesn’t shy away from commenting on migration protocols in Europe and displacement because of politics, and somehow a typical Bollywood dance sequence is included without making the film feel crowded or out of sync.
At the end, the film would leave you hungry for a journey full of the unexpected.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir is showing as part of Alliance Française French Film Festival from 16 March 2019. For more information and tickets, click HERE