Director: Mrighdeep Singh Lamba
Writer: Vipul Vig
Cast: Pulkit Samrat, Varun Sharma, Manjot Singh, Pankaj Tripathi, Richa Chadha
Duration: 150 minutes
Available in: Theatres
I’m no connoisseur of cringe comedy, and I’ve been waiting for a chance to say this, but Dhamaal (2007) and Welcome (2007) remain undefeated champions of the genre. Either I was too young, or every franchise since has operated under the misguided impression that unfunny is the new funny; poop is the new nincompoop; and people are the new animals. Fukrey 3 is a lesser Housefull 2, in that it resorts to anti-crocodile propaganda – the snoring crocodile in the latter is a scared crocodile in the former – when it runs out of Varun Sharma and narrative idiocy. It’s the sort of garish and hallucinatory experience that brings back fond memories of how Fukrey (2013) was actually a decent pretender to the throne.
At times, I admit I laughed – but that’s more like an insane supervillain-origin-story cackle, like something the Joker would do after getting a smile carved into his face. If aliens from outer space were to do a recce of this planet this weekend, Fukrey 3 (and a seat next to the Joker) might be the movie that sends them back with an adverse report on human intelligence – and a burning desire to reverse evolution and bring back the dinosaurs, but only on the condition that they aren’t forced to star in the climax of these franchises. If the crocodile whimpering in fear at the bottom of a swimming pool is anything to go by, the future is bleak.
Here goes. Fukrey 3 is, of course, the third instalment of the strangely popular movie series about a gang of East-Delhi simpletons who find themselves on bad-comic-book adventures. Hunny (Pulkit Samrat), Choochaa (Varun Sharma), Lali (Manjot Singh), Pandit (Pankaj Tripathi) and Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadha) return – there’s no Zafar (Ali Fazal), because he’s moved onto bigger things, I hope – six months after the nonsensical events of Fukrey Returns (2017). Their electronic store called Janta is kaput, and they’re back to square zero. Bholi, though, is running for the local elections; she is funded by an evil water-tanker mafia boss named Dhingra. But Bholi is forced into promising good things to a parched voter base that’s sick of water theft. Why, you ask? (Even if you don’t ask, I’m going to keep telling you). Because Choochaa emerges as an unlikely rival candidate – after the media captures him lovingly washing the butt (cue bad “dhoni” pun) of a child during Bholi’s campaign trail. The grin on his face is not supposed to be creepy. This is only the beginning of the toilet humour, in a movie that seems to have been conceived entirely across sweet-smelling restrooms.
The fukrey gang realise that they need cash to fund Choochaa’s campaign. As per brand, the crew embarks on a random all-expenses-paid trip to South Africa, where Choochaa’s fabled Deja Chu powers (where he can see the future) are supposed to strike gold in a diamond mine. Initially, this Cape Town sojourn feels like a sorry excuse to insert some ‘harmless’ racism (a girl named Mombasa speaks in Punjabi and is addressed by names such as Mufasa and Mogambo) and a boring flight gag, where the whiskey-chugging pandit learns that human waste in an airplane is recycled into ice cubes. But I was wrong; I am always wrong. Not in my wildest nightmare could I predict the lunacy of the anti-plot to follow.
Choochaa accidentally swallows a diamond, a situation that made me sink at the prospect of having to wait for the nincompoop to poop it out. But in a pre-interval electrocution gag that goes on for ages – the tedious staging means that every gag is 30 seconds longer than they should be; even the 20-second gags are 30 seconds too long – it is revealed that the diamond within Choochaa makes him urinate…carbons. His carbon-urine combines with Hunny’s hydro-sweat (an alibi for Pulkit Samrat to do his shirtless-Salman swag) to inadvertently create petrol – petrol which they sell at cheap rates in Delhi to fund this election campaign. Cue a ‘training’ montage where Choochaa keeps peeing into buckets and Hunny keeps perspiring, and they all keep raking in the moolah. Of all the paragraphs I imagined writing as a functional adult, this was not one.
At some point in a second half that features disinterested faces, the alleged comedy collapses into cheap poverty porn. It’s like the makers suddenly decide to parody social documentaries, except they don’t know that they’re in parody mode. Desperate citizens beg for water, a riot happens, youngsters faint from thirst, a kid gets run over by a tanker, the screen loses colour, patriotism arrives, and without the slightest hint of irony, muscular Hunny mouths the line: “We won’t let India become Syria and Delhi become Baghdad”. I get the excessive tone but…actually, no, I don’t get it. I’m not even going to pretend to.
Either way, the climax unfolds at a private water park where Dhingra holds our gang hostage and forces them to make precious fuel (don’t ask how). When a violent mob breaks into the park and starts washing their clothes and bathing and drinking and filling buckets with unabashed glee, I didn’t have the heart (or stamina) to mention two loopholes. One, there’s chlorine in that water. Two, Choochaa hasn’t taken a dump since South Africa. Also, if peshab (urine) and pasina (sweat) are the required ingredients, every public swimming pool in the country is a thriving petrol pump. Also, would crocodile (and critic) tears turn this petrol into premium bio-diesel? If so, bring on Fukrey 4 and make me a reluctant millionaire.