The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir – quite ordinary, quite extra

The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir is based on a book by Romain Puértolas. It is the story of Ajatashatru – a street smart magician from India who travels to France to fulfill his mother’s most ardent wish and find a better (read richer) life for himself but instead he ends up getting exposed to a world that he had never even imagined – from the refugee crisis to lovelorn celebrities to falling in love himself. It’s really about how Aja’s journey across the world leads him to a journey inwards and helps him heal & help others.

Fakir in Hindi means a saint or a sadhu who has given up on the material world and is in search of spiritual actualisation. This film aims to show the journey of Aja from a street smart trickster with dreams of a big life to a learned man who understands that life is but about helping others in theirs.

As an Indian viewer with Hindi as her mother tongue, I couldn’t help but notice the irony of Aja’s name which literally means having no enemies but in the film nothing could be further from the truth. Aja seems to have a knack of making enemies as much as he has one for making friends! While Dhanush is charming as Aja, the film tries hard to be a whimsical, spiritual journey but instead becomes a tiring confused spectacle. While the first half, which is setting the story and Aja’s character, is still palatable and promises a decent viewing, the second half is all over the place.

From putting Aja in the middle of a refugee crisis and opening his world, and the viewers, to this uncomfortable reality but only just barely, to introducing characters like the actress whom Aja befriends and ultimately helps find her lost love, the film has entirely too much on its plate and not much congruence between it all.

I get the magical realism appeal that the movie is going for but unfortunately it just doesn’t get there. There is this awkward tussle between being a regular movie with A to B screenplay v/s being unstructured like life which can be blown in any direction, much like the hot air balloon Aja finds himself in in one of the scenes. Aja floats between one problem to another without any getting their proper due. Perhaps that was the idea that just like in life where we are always surrounded by issues – personal and worldly – yet we choose to tackle them one at a time & then too not always fully before moving to the next one…however this thinking just doesn’t work here because of the structuring problem discussed above.

This film could have been much better, a true whimsical story had they treated it as such and not as a self help guide.

Director – Ken Scott

Cast – Dhanush, Bérénice Bejo, Erin Moriarty, Barkhad Abdi, Gérard Jugnot, Ben Miller

👩🏾‍💻 – Amazon Prime

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