Film: "Firangi"; Director: Rajiev Dhingra; Cast: Kapil Sharma, Ishita Dutta, Monica Gill, Edward Sonnenblick, Inaamulhaq, Kumud Mishra, Neeta Mohindra, Aanjjan Srivastav, Rajesh Sharma, Jameel Khan; Rating: **1/2
"Firangi" is not an out-and-out laugh riot, but nevertheless despite a weak story, the film is well-picturised and punctuated with humour at appropriate junctures.
Set in the pre-Independence era circa 1921, it is the tale of Mangatram (Kapil Sharma) aka "Manga," who works for the British.
Manga, from Behrampur, because of his clean heart, is God-gifted with a unique kick that relieves people from back aches. But his love for guns and a uniform is what attracts him to the police force.
But after failed attempts and as a special case, he lands up being appointed as an Orderly to Mark Daniels who suffers from persistent back aches.
It is his love-hate journey with the British that forms the crux of the tale and thus the title - "Firangi".
This drama certainly does not lack funny moments. Told in a light and flimsy manner, this fictional period drama pivots on a weak, predictable premise and is more of a redemption fable than a tale of romance and patriotism. In fact, the patriotic bit seems more forced and trite.
The script is simply formulaic and devoid of creases. Manga falls in love with Sargi of Rasool Pura. It is love at first sight. But when his English boss in connivance with Maharaja Indraveer Singh plans to start a liquor manufacturing unit in Rasool Pura after relocating the villagers, Manga decides to plead their case.
But instead, he finds himself being betrayed and the villagers cheated of their land. He thus whips up a plan to outwit the greedy Maharaja and Daniels. The entire execution of the plan is amateurishly theatrical. The screenplay is choppy and disjointed. Despite many plot twists, the screenplay stays inert.
Even with a car chase, there just isn't enough excitement or tension as we trudge to a predictable end. The entire scene seems to be an extension of his erstwhile television show.
Visually certain scenes remind you of "Lagaan" and Navneet Misser's cinematography captures the era to perfection, albeit a bit synthetically at times.
With a run time of two hours and 41 minutes, the film is a tad bit too long, but nevertheless the histrionics keep you hooked.
Kapil Sharma though sincere, hardly puts in an effort to enhance his character. Ishita Dutta as Sargi plays the demure village belle to perfection, but is reduced to a side-kick. Monica Gill as the Oxford returned Princess Shamilee, is uninspiring.
Inaamulhaq portrays the role of Hira - Manga's friend. As usual, he is natural and outshines everyone, especially in the scene where he dresses up as a bride. Edward Sonnenblick makes his debut in Hindi cinema as Mark Daniels and his dialogue delivery is impressive.
Kumud Mishra as the debauch Maharaja Indraveer Singh, Rajesh Sharma as Sargi's father and Aanjjan Srivastav as Sargi's grandfather Lalaji, have their moments of onscreen glory.
The film leaves you in vain, pining for substance that could strike an emotional chord.