By Subhash K. Jha
Film: F.A.L.T.U; Directed by Remo D'Souza; Starring: Jackky Bhagnany, Pooja Gupta, Angad Bedi, Chandan Roy Sanyal; Rating: ***
F.A.L.T.U? Not quite. A film that takes stinging swipes at our education system cannot live up to a title as uninspiring as that.
F.A.L.T.U turns out to be quite a pleasant surprise. Fresh, feisty, vivacious and vibrant, and with an important message on the gaping loopholes in our education system, this film gets your adrenaline all pumped for its energetic storytelling and more than a fair share of juvenile antics which stop short of being annoying because they represent the dimmed aspirations of hundreds of school drop-outs and semi-drop-outs who run adrift in the absence of the requisite marks to get into college.
The film offers a solution borrowed straight from Steve Pink's 2006 high-school comedy "Accepted" where the losers and other unlikely heroes opened their own bogus college to pacify their disgruntled parents.
Is Bollywood still doing unofficial remakes?
As in Ayan Mukerjee's vastly superior "Wake Up, Sid," the aimless protagonist takes the earnest parents for granted until the terrible marks precipitates a domestic crisis for the academic failures.
After a point, the storytelling acquires a life of its own independent of any other films, desi or firangi. The film exudes a certain gaiety and ebullience.
Bright showy colours are used to convey the shallow life where the only thing to look forward after a party is an after-party.
Post-debutant director Remo d'Souza (he has earlier directed a Bengali film) lets the four principal characters do their own thing. A spirit of unconditional bonhomie runs through the hyper-activity of the characters, as they party, party and then party some more.
And then somewhere down the line they want to get serious about their education.
Interestingly, the bonding among the quarter of friends never goes into any emotional tangents. There isn't even a hint of a romance between Jackky Bhagnani and debutante Pooja Gupta who are the official hero and heroine.
None of the four principal characters gets to lord over the proceedings. There are no romantic duets, no attempt to create individual alcoves of emotional or dramatic interest for any of the characters.
Not one moment touches your heart. This isn't a film that encourages a slackening of narrative energy.
The performances are largely functional. Jackky Bhagnani shows a marked improvement since his last film. He gets dependable support from Chandan Roy Sanyal and to a lesser extent Angad Bedi. Among the senior cast one is rather taken aback to see Rameshwari who once played the charming scenestealer in "Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaye", as Angad Bedi's South Indian mother.
Angad looks as South Indian as Bishan Singh Bedi. But then we aren't really looking for cultural specificity in these actors. These characters represent a state of mind. They live in a world of vibrant colours.They are a part of a world where poor academic performance has turned them into diehard pleasure-seekers.
To avoid thinking of what darkness lies in the future for these young losers,there's always the next party. Come, let's join the fun.