The intentions are good, the combination of styles is interesting, but the result is disappointing. Bringing to screen a novel by French author Romain Puértolas ,'The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir', directed by Ken Scott tells the story of an Indian conman whose dream to travel to Europe comes true, only to be mistaken for one of the millions of refugees trying to find a place under the European skies. Bollywood meets French literature meets European road movies meets refugees drama meets Hollywood. It's a mix that works only to some point.
What I liked. The mix of innocence and bravura of the hero is well served by the acting of Dhanush. Cultural differences are treated with a light comical touch and some of them succeed beyond the stereotypes. The funniest scene that takes place in the immigration office at the English airport and it's gorgeous, combining music and dance in a way that reminds Bollywood but also the Hollywood musicals. The way the European prejudices towards people whom they suspect are refugees because they look different makes its point without being too obvious or insistent. And 'a real fake passport' is a bright line.
What I liked less. The use of off-screen voice is excessive and pretentious. True, the film brings to screen a novel, but there are better ways to do it than have the character read text. The way the refugees and their dramas are presented is schematic. The romantic story is not credible - not in the way it starts and especially not in the way it ends.
'The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir' tries to make its audiences feel well while dealing with serious topics. For me, at some moments it succeeded, at other it was boring. With less caution and more sharpness in the comical approach it could have been a better film. As it stands it belongs to the category 'only if you have nothing else better to do'.
Bollywood, refugees, and European trip movie