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Embroiled in controversies ever since the first poster of Fanney Khan dropped, the movie is finally heading to the finish line after the Indian Supreme Court refused to grant a stay on its release on August 1 (more on that later).

With an award-winning star cast led by Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao, here’s a look at what makes the Atul Manjrekar-directed Fanney Khan stand out from the crowd.

A remake of a Belgium film

Fanney Khan is the official remake of the Belgian satirical comedy, Everybody’s Famous! (2000), which went on to be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 73rd Academy Awards.

Similar to its Bollywood counterpart, the Belgian film chronicles the journey of a poor factory worker who pins his hopes on his teenage daughter to fulfil his long cherished dream of becoming a singer. When the young teen faces mockery and rejection for being overweight, the father kidnaps a famous pop star and demands a unique ransom — a way to make his daughter famous.

In an interview with Bollywood Hungama, Kapoor spoke about casting Pihu Sand as his daughter in the film, saying: “Having seen the original Belgium film, Everybody’s Famous!, I knew this was a tricky bit of casting; but after meeting the bindaas [carefree] Pihu, I knew instantly that she was our Lata [Sand’s character].”

Tackling the issue of body image

It is no secret that the Bollywood film industry and fans can be brutal about body image. Fanney Khan star Rai Bachchan’s post pregnancy body became fodder for tabloid headlines as the actress refused to buckle under pressure to lose weight on someone else’s schedule.

Actresses Ileana D’Cruz, Sonakshi Sinha, Vidya Balan and Bhumi Pednekar have also stated several times in the media that they felt victimised for not conforming to a conventional body type.

In the trailer of Fanney Khan, aspiring singer Sand, the actress who plays Kapoor’s daughter, is seen repeatedly being body shamed during her auditions. Sand, who makes her debut with this film, stated she gained around 20 kgs for her role, similar to Pednekar, who increased her weight in Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015) to fit the part.

Fanney Khan highlights the issue of the body shaming culture that is prevalent in showbiz, with lead star Kapoor also calling it a ‘curse’ that ‘really hurts our kids’ during a press conference of the film. The 61-year-old recalled his own daughter, actress Sonam Kapoor’s struggles, who was forced to lose nearly 30 kgs when she made her debut in 2007’s Saawariya.

Recreating classical tunes

The film features not one, but two classic tracks that have been recreated for Fanney Khan.

The song Halka Halka, which is picturised on Rai Bachchan and Rao in the film, was originally sung by the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, titled Ye Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai and was released in 1991. The track was one of the most popular numbers sung by the late Ustad, whose qawwali rendition often saw crowds give him a standing ovation at concerts.

The almost eight-minute original song has garnered over 13 million views on YouTube alone.

Meanwhile, another song from Fanney Khan, which was released earlier this week on his 38th death anniversary, pays tribute to the late Indian singer, Mohammad Rafi. Kapoor has recreated the classic song Badan Pe Sitare in his own style by aping some of the legendary dance moves by the late Shammi Kapoor in Prince (1969).

Singer Sonu Nigam, who sang the revamped song, said in an interview with IANS that if it was not for the younger Kapoor, he would not have meddled with a song by his guru.

“I basically was avoiding doing it because I don’t like to tamper with original songs anymore. I’ve done enough of versions in my past, said Nigam. “And it’s Rafi sahab’s [sir’s] song. Who wants to mess with it? He is my musical father. But Anil Kapoorji insisted and he requested me to do it. He said he was playing an ardent follower of Rafi sahab in the film, and that’s why he wanted me to give him my voice.”

Unusual pairing of lead stars

While it is unclear how much of the film’s narrative with explore a budding romance between the film’s two lead stars, Bachchan and Rao, the unusual pairing of the duo has generated a lot of media buzz.

In the film, Rai Bachchan plays pop sensation Baby Singh who is kidnapped by Kapoor and Rao. In a recent interview with PTI, Rao admitted he was in awe of the actress and had fun working with her.

“It is a great story and I loved my part. It was very exciting to work with Aishwarya. It was a fascinating experience. My whole romantic side with Aishwarya was really fun. My character is in awe of her in the film. And I am in awe of her in real life. It was a very weird combination,” he stated.

Legal trouble

After months of legal tussles between the film’s producers over distribution rights, on August 1, the Supreme Court of India refused to stay the release of Fanney Khan, which was being sought by film producer Vashu Bhagnani.

Earlier this week, Bhagnani on Monday moved the Supreme Court, alleging the film’s distribution rights for India was given to his company Pooja Entertainment & Films Ltd. The production house further claimed it had signed a MoU with Fanney Khan co-producer Kriarj Entertainment in December 2017.

Pooja Films further claimed Rs85million had been deposited out of an agreed Rs10m payment, with the remaining money to be paid a week before the film’s release.

The issue began in June this year, with Bhagnani crying foul when his name was not mentioned on the film’s poster credits. He sent a notice to Fanney Khan’s three producers, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, T-Series and KriArj Entertainment (which later backing out from the project).


‘Believe in yourself’ says Aishwarya

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan says Fanney Khan has a vital message for people, encouraging them to believe in themselves and the magic that they have within.

“This film gives message that you should believe in yourself. Believe in all that you have within yourself because the magic is within you. Believe in a blessed life as life is beautiful, and therefore, experience it and smile with all that you have to give it to life,” she said at the film’s screening in Mumbai. (IANS)


Don’t miss it!

Fanney Khan is out in the UAE on August 2.