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Upperstall Review




Hindi, Comedy, Romance, 2012, Color

Nandini (Gul Panag) and Navin (Purab Kohli) are about to get married when disaster strikes. Navin and his friends, a hugely overweight Sudeep (Ranvir Shorey) and Yash, go out to celebrate. An accident occurs on the highway and Navin is dead. Navin wakes up in heaven and discovers to his horror that it was a clerical error that had landed him in heaven. The man actually destined to be there was fat Sudeep with his cholesterol on overdrive! Navin makes a scene in the overcrowded waiting room of heaven and demands that he be returned to earth, and to his loved ones. This film is about how Navin returns to earth and has to woo Nandini all over again in another guise...

The first half of Fatso is scattered with all the riches that we expect from great independent cinema - a relatively novel plot, real characters, solid writing and some genuinely intelligent moments. The light-handed treatment of the after death track is an obvious case in point, clearly the high point of film. The choice of a government office setting was a superb one, and the supporting cameos, especially from the Parsi GM, spot on. So to with the accident scene. It is an important plot point for obvious reasons, and it is setup and executed with control and finesse.

The 'real'ness of its characters is the other strong point of Fatso. The three friends sharing a smoke when in the opening sequence establishes each of their characters in a natural and identifiable way, no mean feat that. Never once do any of the leads give in to melodrama (at least not till the last 3 minutes). They are allowed to make flawed choices, to not be perfect. This is especially brought out well in how Neil Bhoopalan's - the third friend - character is textured. He's opportunistic, but not necessarily bad.

The problem lies in the graph of these characters, and indeed, of the story itself. With a setup that pretty much makes it clear how the plot will play out, the director's job was to basically follow the script. However, the main track of how Ranvir tries to win Gul over after Purab's death is entangled with unnecessary focus on subplots and characters, and a love triangle that is as confusing as they come. The pace and focus of the second half falters terribly, and all good of the first half is undone in the process. The film ends on a surreally bizarre note, and for a film that started, in terms of it's plot, on a pretty tangible note, ends in the abstract.

The thing is, there's a clear conflict and resolution waiting to be had. Gul will fall in love with Ranvir, of course. But is she falling for Ranvir or for Purab, whose spirit is in Ranvir's body? Is there a difference between them any more, or are they now one? The question is pregnant with possibilities, yet it's explored for exactly 5 seconds.

It's not necessary that the title of the film be important to the plot, but in this case, the question needs to be asked anyway - what was the point in making Ranvir fat? His rotundness plays no role in any way - neither setting up conflicts, nor creating any progression. It's just there, as part of the proceedings. Just like the ancient ambassador they keep on driving. Interesting, but of no relevance. It does give Ranvir a change to show his acting chops, and they're in fine fettle. He is, in spite of the fake looking belly, absolutely believable as the gentle, overweight friend who is used to being pushed our by his cooler friends. It is a detailed performance (look at him playing football on the beach), and not affected or caricatured for most parts.

A bit like Purab's character, the film is in a limbo between good and bad. But it sure as hell missed a chance to be great.

Upperstall review by: Mr Care

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