Still from "Finding Fanny" Image Credit: Supplied

Finding Fanny is the cinematic equivalent of enjoying an impromptu island getaway to a destination such as the Maldives.

On such a vacation, suddenly your life, which moved at a frenetic pace in the city, becomes languid as you soak in the ocean views and you are lulled into thinking that all’s perfect with the world. You walk away after watching Finding Fanny — an oddball romantic comedy starring the talented Deepika Padukone, Dimple Kapadia, Arjun Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah and Pankaj Kapur — with that similar warm, fuzzy feeling.

Director Homi Adjania makes a clean break from norms attached to Bollywood ‘masala’ films and he survives to tell that tale. There are no over-the-top emotions or larger-than-life heroic acts from these multi-generational talents.

For instance, Padukone’s character — the likeable Angie who becomes a widow on her wedding day and leads a lonely life thereafter — had melodrama written all over it. But Padukone gives her career’s most restrained yet compelling performance. Without being gratingly loud or freakishly chirpy like some Bollywood heroines, she manages to communicate her good heartedness and her willingness to accommodate others.

She lives in the frozen-in-time Goan village of Pocolim, a pensioner’s paradise on prozac. Those who live there have never been introduced to ambition and are content with their daily church visits or wallowing in self-pity.

A letter slipped under the door for an ageing Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah), Angie’s good friend, jumpstarts their eventless existence.

He realises that the letter he wrote decades ago in his twenties professing his undying love and proposing marriage to his sweetheart Stephanie Fernandes was never delivered.

He decides to track her down along with Angie, but his travel companions for his road trip unwittingly turns out to be Dimple Kapadia (voluptuous Mrs Rosalina Eucharistica who is chaperoning her daughter-in-law Angie), Pankaj Kapur (the skirt-chasing, but celebrated painter Don Pedro) and Arjun Kapoor (the man-child mechanic Savio).

The five disparate souls don’t make much sense together but it’s impossible for viewers not to warm up to them. Kapoor as the petulant Savio, who lost Angie to his best friend Gavo, is a poster boy for the quarter-life crisis. He has a persecution complex, but Kapoor does a good job of making him lovable. For veterans such as Kapur, Kapadia and Shah, these are roles that they know how to own and celebrate.

Kapur’s transition from a romantic, endearing painter to an exacting trapped-in-his-art genius and Kapadia as a boorish but well-endowed matriarch are riveting. But what stood in our way of enjoying the film thoroughly was its language. In the UAE theatres, the dubbed Hindi version of the English-language feature is being screened. It was annoying to see the actors’ lips forming English words and the sounds emerging in Hindi.

Some of the jokes and sharp dialogues were lost in translation and that’s a tragedy. But don’t let that dissuade you from watching Finding Fanny. It’s a confident, succinct film (93 minutes) that doesn’t shy away from being subtle and doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of its viewers. It’s a film that may not claim to change the world, but it does bring a smile to your face for at least a day.