There is something hugely infectious about the exuberance of youth. That is probably why Fukrey, a comedy about four Delhi boys in a tearing hurry to realise their little dreams against all odds, appears to exude much greater energy than it intrinsically possesses.
While the bubbly air of eccentricity that underlines the script is endearing for the most part, it tends to get trapped in a repetitive loop at times. But, in the end, its meanderings do not last long enough to mar the fun beyond salvation.
Comparisons, though odious, are inevitable. Fukrey is unlikely to hold up too well against similar buddy-buddy flicks that Bollywood has churned out in recent times with such frequency that they have now begun to feel like rip-offs of each other, barring a minor tweak here and a little twist there.
Fukrey has neither the don?t-care-a-fig irreverence of Delhi Belly nor the metro-sexual chutzpah of Dil Chahta Hai (which, of course, was the first film from the stable that has produced Fukrey).
And if you are looking for an authentic worm?s eye view of Delhi lowlife, Fukrey isn?t quite Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.
But that is not to say it isn?t an enjoyable film. It is. Many of its punch lines are quite funny, and some of the desperate measures that the quartet is compelled to take recourse to in order to wriggle out of sticky situations border on the uproarious.
All that the quartet succeeds in doing is dig an enormous hole that gets bigger and darker with each misadventure they plunge into, adding to the mirth.
Fukrey kicks off with two school back-benchers who are as thick as thieves, Vikas Gulati alia Hunny (Pulkit Samrat) and Dilip Singh alias Choocha. (debutant Varun Sharma).
Their urge to go to one particular college in town and date the girls there is so great that they are willing to take any risk in the bargain.
The bumbling Choocha has a dream every night. He narrates it to Hunny the next morning. The latter interprets the reverie and comes up with a number and a lottery to put his money on. What they make from the gamble sees them through the rest of the day.
The duo befriends Lali (Manjot Singh), the son of a sweetmeat dealer. The latter is in the same boat. A first year correspondence course student, he too wants to enroll in the aforementioned college for a similar reason ? his girlfriend studies there.
The quartet is completed by a slightly older bloke, Zafar (Ali Afzal), son of a butcher who has traded the meat-cleaver for a guitar. He whiles away his time on the college campus as he waits for the two things he cares for ? the girl he loves, the accountancy teacher Neetu Singh (Vishakha Singh), and the elusive big break as a musician.
Fukrey, which is director and co-writer Mrighdeep Singh Lamba?s sophomore effort, would have been an infinitely better film if only it had a more focussed screenplay (co-written by Vipul Vig).
The film is replete with the lingo of Delhi?s streets and college campuses and the four young actors do a fair job of ensuring consistent authenticity of diction.
But despite the many shots of different parts of the city, including the unavoidable back lanes of old Delhi, Fukrey does not add up to a vivid portrait of the metropolis.
But there is much in Fukrey that is likeable. It isn?t a formula film, so it steers well clear of the conventions of a boy-meets-girl flick. Moreover, it does not succumb to the temptation projecting the female characters as mere objects of desire.
Fukrey is a film about male bonding, but the actresses are given just about enough to do not to be completely overshadowed.
Richa Chadha, in the guise of a tough-talking female don Bholi Punjaban, steps in as an ally-turned-adversary of the foursome as they hatch a daring plot to get rich quick.
Vishakha Singh (who incidentally is also in the other release of the week) gets a few scenes that allow her to make her presence felt in no uncertain terms.
Fukrey, at two hours plus, is in danger at times of overstaying its welcome. But the audience remains involved all the way through owing primarily to the endearing quality that the four young male actors bring to the table.
The four boys are distinguished from each other by their individual traits ? Hunny is a quick thinker, Choocha is hopelessly gullible, Lali is laidback and Zafar is reticent.
Especially noteworthy is Manjot Singh as Lali, who tosses off one-liners with a straight face.
Pulkit Samrat and Varun Sharma, too, pull their weight. However, Ali Fazal, saddled with a somewhat underwritten role, is left a bit in the shade.
Richa Chadha plays for big laughs and gets them. Priya Anand (last seen in English Vinglish), despite the limited opportunities she gets, does not get swamped out of the picture.
Fukrey is full-on entertainment although it stops shy of being an outstanding comedy. But the fact that it gets tantalisingly close is no mean feat. For all its flaws, it?s definitely worth a watch.