In his first acting assignment Farhan Akhtar is splendidly in form as a bit of jerk. He plays a production controller who can get a film crew anything they want, from a monkey performing tricks, to an exotic fakir performing monkey tricks.
Adi is okay with supplying anything, as long as he gets paid.
The monkey and the monkey tricks are aptly equated in the hugely original is ferociously flawed script (Rajesh Devraj). When Adi is asked by a museum in Venice to produce a fakir who can bury himself completely in sand for hours, the narrative brings into play the crass touristic culture of peddling exotica to the West.
Anu Kapoor, in a stellar performance as the spaced out alcoholic chawl dweller who desperately needs to make money, is that performing monkey, or a sexless gigolo if you will, who must make the firangis giggle with pleasure by holding his breath in sand.
Though the theme is one of exploitation at the most basic level, the plot moves in mysteriously non-toxic ways creating pockets of empathy between the two men with a languorous equanimity. It all comes apart after the first-half with the storytellers hellbent on force-finding a crisis and a climax to round of the quirky tale of the human bandar and the madaari.
Farhan and Anu Kapoor play off each effectively. But the space provided for them to manoeuvre their differences and conflicts frequently gets crowded with humbug.They are unlikely companions separated by class and culture and also by the fact that the more sophisticated of the two men is an exploitative so-and-so. Sportingly Farhan plays the morally compromised go-getter with conviction. Anu Kapoor is magnificent as the reluctant monkey, while Jhilmil Hazrika as Kapoor’s sister leaves a lasting impression in a brief role.
The Fakir Of Venice builds its narrative pyramid on a solid foundation of exploitative tourism. But the plot falls apart in the third act when a goodhearted local Italian woman(Valentina Carnelutti) intervenes to rescue the Fakir(with a tragic unconvincing secret) and even falls in love with him.
If only the imaginative mind knew where to stop so many global calamities could be prevented.