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Firangi

Rating: 1.5

December 01, 2017

Cast: Kapil Sharma, Ishita Dutta, Kumud Mishra, Anjan Shrivastava, Rajesh Sharma, Monica Gill, Edward Sonnenblick

Director: Rajiev Dhingra

What’s television’s favorite funnyman Kapil Sharma like, without the prompted laughter from the audience? For that answer you’d have to watch his new film Firangi…although I don’t recommend that you do. It’s a bloated, 2 hour 40 minute exercise designed to suggest that he can act. But to survive the film you’d need to be chained to your seat, with toothpicks holding up your eyelids. Yes, it’s a slog.

Directed by Rajiev Dhingra, and produced by Kapil himself, Firangi is a colonial era story set in the 1920s about a bunch of villagers in Punjab who take on the nasty British. There are echoes of Lagaan, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, and – hold your hearts – even Ocean’s Eleven.

Kapil stars as Manga, an unemployed bumpkin whose only talent is the ability to cure one’s backache by delivering a swift kick to the spot. Manga falls in love with Sargi (Ishita Dutta), a pretty girl from the neighbouring village, and to impress her he takes a job in the service of a British officer (Edward Sonnenblick), who, as it turns out, is in cahoots with a greedy, debauched maharaja (Kumud Mishra).

The king and the corrupt British officer manipulate our unsuspecting hero to rob the villagers of their land in order to set up a liquor factory on the site. Now it’s left to Manga to win back the land, his reputation, and yes, his sweetheart, with whom he has way too many dull romantic interludes in the field, by the river, on the roof – you get the picture. In the middle of all this, there’s also a princess (Monica Gill), roaming about in derby hats, long gloves, and carrying around the world’s tiniest pistol. She’s supposed to have returned from Oxford, but for some reason she sports an American accent.

It’s hard to take the film seriously, despite a cast of strong supporting actors like Rajesh Sharma and Kumud Mishra, who can’t lift the plodding script. Save for a few moments of inspired humour, and a handful of clever comebacks, the film doesn’t give Kapil Sharma much scope to flex his comic chops. You’d have to be a die-hard fan to appreciate his one-note performance that is basically no more than looking wide-eyed into camera and muttering uninspired lines with a silly grin.

Firangi is an odd choice of drama for a fine extempore comic to cut his teeth on. What it works very well as is a cure for insomnia. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five.

(This review first aired on CNN News18)

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