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Drug peddling, stalking, paper leaking! How did CBFC clear Fukrey? – Beyond Bollywood

10 years later, your reviewer watched the Mrighdeep Singh Lamba directorial and was left stunned how the film had a casual approach to social ills. 

By Mayur Lookhar

Early in June, 2023, Fukrey [2013] completed ten years. A third film is slated to release on 28 September this year. We haven’t watched the first two films. If we end up reviewing Fukrey 3 or Fukr3y, it would be wise to watch at least the first film. This article doesn’t celebrate #10yearsofFukrey. Often these trends are driven by PR than genuine fans. That is not to suggest that Fukrey doesn’t have a loyal audience. A third part is impossible if the earlier films didn’t leave an impression. Having said that, many of these sequels are driven more by greed than organic story progression.

We hope to share our word on Fukrey 3. For now we are left astonished by what we saw in director, creator Mrighdeep Singh Lamba’s Fukrey [2013].

Based on a familiar loser’s predicament plot, director Lamba, writer Vipul Vig have clearly gone overboard in their regressive narrative. 

Vikas ‘Hunny’ Gulati [Pulkit Samrat], Dilip ‘Choocha’ Singh [debutant Varun Sharma] are Delhi-based high school students, who aspire to go to college. Not to study but in the hope that they could make girlfriends. Expectedly poor in academics, the backbenchers tinker with the idea of obtaining leaked question papers as their only hope to make this dream come true. They don’t have the money and bank on quick bucks via lottery.  In a bizarre scenario, Choocha has these weird dreams which Hunny decodes into a lucky number for lottery.  Jeez, both Choocha and Hunny have some gifts.

In nearby locale, Lali Halwai [Manjot Singh] is equally desperate to go to college in the hope that he would be able to impress his girl friend’s gorgeous friend Neetu Raina [Vishakha Singh]. We have a loser in struggling singer in Zafar [Ali Fazal], an alumnus of this Delhi college. His singing career didn’t take off, this after he chose music over his ex-girl friend Neetu.

Choocha, Hunny try bribing the college security guard Pandit ji [Pankaj Tripathi] to arrange for leaked exam papers. Pandit ji clearly has more influence than the college principal. It was natural for the quartet of losers to come together.

We have no issues with their miseries, but the actions that the quartet take raises serious questions whether Lamba and his writer Vig have chosen a casual, light hearted approach to drug peddling, stalking, fraud?

Richa Chadda

The prime antagonist here is one Bholi Punjaban [Richa Chadda], who indulges into all kind of illegal activities.  Choocha, Hunny, Lali’s lust brings them into the net of Bholi. Poor Zafar is weighed down by circumstances and reluctantly joins the trio.

Their luck runs out with lottery, leaving the four men at the mercy of Bholi Punjaban, who exploits the men for personal gains. The young men are ordered to deliver a bag of pills [harmful drugs] at a rave party in Delhi. Thankfully Zafar is aware of the true nature of this delivery. It is befuddling as to how Hunny, Choocha, Lali pretend to not knowing what’s truly inside these pills.

Globally, dark comedies do produce grey characters. The successful ones are those where circumstances leave the struggling protagonists into murky businesses.  Fukrey though appears to speak of these things in a casual tone, and comes dangerously close to promoting drug culture.

The other shocking thing is how Hunny, Choocha are desperate for a girlfriend. If Hunny desires a college girl, then why does he try impressing upon a local, innocent girl Priya [Priya Anand]. Worse, he doesn’t blink an eye when he uses the innocent Priya as a conduit to deliver drug pills at the rave party.

Luck is deserting the fukras [useless fellas] as Delhi police conducts a surprise raid at the rave party. An honest civilian would seriously question the character of Hunny. Thankfully, the drug menace is condemned in the business end where Choocha, Hunny repent their early actions. Is it too late though?

Does Hunny repent stalking Priya?  The innocent Delhi girl easily buys into Hunny’s words.  After realizing how naive she was to put her life/career at risk by going to the rave party, Priya blasts Hunny for being so selfish. Few days later, the guy does turn up near her residence again. One is bemused though why the girl is gesticulating an apology from her balcony. Such cheap antics by Hunny are akin to stalking. Sadly, such regressive tropes appear in a Bollywood film six months after Delhi, and the nation, were rocked by the Nirbhaya gangrape of 2012.

That barbaric episode should have been an eye opener for society to condemn all forms of women harassment. Yet Bollywood had the gumption to make a Fukrey. It’s bizarre that despite dragging her into a potentially dangerous predicament, Priya still chooses to forgive Hunny.

Surely, exam paper leaks can’t happen without the support of officials working inside. Lamba’s film, though, takes a very lighthearted approach to these crimes. You got to feel for Pankaj Tripathi. What does one think about his character? Or what impression does this college leave in the minds of youth? Is this an institute where stalkers are given a free hand?

Then there’s Bholi Punjaban supplying girls to high profile clients. Jeez, Mrighdeep Singh Lamba, what world have you created in Fukrey? Your film seems to have passed off drug culture, stalking, prostitution, education scams as cool things. Can any sane civilian be attracted to any of these grey characters?

One doesn’t like to take any moral high ground, but the initially unapologetic nature of Lamba’s protagonists doesn’t send the right message. We’re in a fix as to how could the then CBFC [Central Board of Film Certification] have allowed such a film to pass?  Leela Samson was the CBFC chairman from 2011-2015. Who were the people in the Examining Committee? Were they not sensitive to gauge that Fukrey is perhaps glorifying social evils?

Maybe, someday we will get an answer. What’s to be noted is that this film came in a social, political environment where the mandarins in Delhi didn’t care much about such cinema. For all its economic highs, the then ruling government was rightly criticized for being soft on terror. If they weren’t all competent on national security, it would be naïve to expect them to raise an alarm over a Fukrey.

Produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s Excel Entertainment, Fukrey triggered fundamental/moral arguments.  What’s not disputed though is the stellar acts. Even a poor Salman Khan clone-like Pulkit Samrat chipped in with a refreshing performance. Debutant Varun Sharma shot to fame. He was born to play Choocha. However, a decade later, he will have to ensure that the character, tone isn’t monotonous.

The best praise is reserved for Richa Chadda. Jeez, the character, mannerism, tone, spicy dialogues, Chadda was near perfect in her act. This Bholi Punjaban though was vastly different to Sonu Punjaban, the real life sex trafficker. Ah, did Bollywood glorify a convicted criminal?

Priya Anand must have stolen many hearts with her innocent Delhi school girl act. 

In the end, it was the sheer intensity of the cast, and the stupendous cinematography that stopped the sane viewer from blasting his/her screen.  We hope that Lamba and Vig have been wise in their Fukrey 3 narrative. If there is any casual approach to social ills again, the sane viewer will not hesitate in calling out Fukrey 3 for its regressive thinking. We have a different social, political environment, but some things never change – don’t have high hopes from CBFC.

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