Do you believe in fate? Eyes meeting across the room, falling in love at first sight, a predetermined life that will lead you to exactly the person you’re meant to spend your life with? Hopeless romantics will certainly find a place in their hearts for ‘The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir’, the latest film from director Ken Scott (‘Delivery Man’, ‘Starbuck’) - but there’s more to this story than what’s on the surface.
Ajatashatru “Aja” Lavash Patel (Venkatesh Prabhu AKA Dhanush, ‘Aadukalam’) is a young man living in Mumbai with his mother and a passion for Swedish furniture and magic. When his mum passes away, he discovers his dad is Parisian, and he makes the extraordinary journey to the city of love. Upon arriving in Paris, he fittingly meets and falls for a young American named Marie (Erin Moriarty, ‘Blood Father’, ‘Captain Fantastic’) in an IKEA store, and charms her with a few ‘(500) Days of Summer’ scenarios. Thy agree to meet at the Eiffel Tower the next day, however, with no money left over, Aja is forced to sleep at the IKEA store. When he awakens, he discovers his comfy cupboard is en route to the UK, where he’s captured as a refugee. But can he make it back to Paris to reunite with the love of his life?
Based on the 2013 novel ‘The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe’ by Romain Puertolas, this film carries a few important messages with it. On the surface, it presents an argument for fate, as Aja and Marie’s lives collide then separate, but invariably come back together. There’s something to be said on the power of positivity, with Aja constantly the recipient of good karma in return for his own. But there’s also more serious topics handled like the ongoing refugee issue in Europe, and the underlying racism inherent in the problem.
Don’t let that worry you, though - it’s all presented in a very light, highly entertaining and frequently surreal manner. From Aja’s skills as a fakir (magician) to the two musical numbers, there’s a fantastical quality to the whole film. It’s complemented nicely by the colourful cinematography and effects, bold and stylish designs that embolden the surreality.
While lead Dhanush may not be particularly well-known to Western audiences, he's starred in 25 (mainly Tamil) films in the past 15 years. In the role of Aja - his first international film performance - he’s a delight to watch. Dhanush has a huge amount of fun with the character, and brings great positivity and likeability to the role. Aja is a resourceful man who knows how to look after himself, and through his cleverness and wit quickly establishes himself as a loveable character. Playing the younger Aja on screen is Hearty Singh, who may actually steal the entire show - cute and charismatic, he sets up the character as someone with enthusiasm and spunk. Erin Moriarty is a sweet love interest of Aja, and most importantly shares screen time as Marie and Aja’s storylines intertwine. Bérénice Bejo (‘The Artist’, ‘A Knight’s Tale’) is also wonderful as Nelly Marnay, an actress who discovers Aja stowed away in her suitcase. Their friendship is a joyful thing to see flourish on screen.
Dhanush may not be particularly well-known to Western audiences, he's starred in 25 (mainly Tamil) films in the past 15 years. In the role of Aja - his first international film performance - he’s a delight to watch.
What does let ‘Fakir’ down is the film’s second act. Despite running at just over 90 minutes, the act of jumping from country to country does get a little repetitive, and though the eventual payoff is worth the wait, the storyline does begin to feel a little redundant. It doesn’t take the shine off the film though, and even at its most laborious, it’s still a great, big heartwarming ball of fun.
Filled with creative moments, ‘The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir’ has a fresh story and quirky characters that are both endearing and delightful to spend time with. A romantic comedy with a strong international twist, it’s a beautiful film about the positivity that you can bring to your life if you allow it. Let ‘Fakir’ put a smile on your face.