It is a tad difficult not to like a movie that celebrates the extraordinary dreams of ordinary folk. Why, then, does Ferrari Ki Sawaari feel like a less than perfect joyride?
This competently crafted and well-intentioned cricket-themed film steers clear of many of commercial Hindi cinema?s narrative conventions ? it sure gets full marks on that count ? but succumbs to some of its most retreaded clich?s.
You might root for the young underdog and his honest-to-a-fault family as they chase an impossible goal, but Ferrari Ki Sawaari isn?t another Iqbal. It won?t have you springing off your seat.
The protagonist?s battle against the odds lacks the dramatic horse power that could have sent the film zipping down the fast lane.
The characters are lovable enough, but their little joys and setbacks, and the emotional ebbs and tides, dangle somewhere between reality and make-believe.
Ferrari Ki Sawaari is a bit like a warm bear hug that eventually leaves you cold.
A motherless Parsi schoolboy Kayoze Deboo (Ritwik Sahore) aspires to emulate his idol Sachin Tendulkar. His doting middle class dad Rustam (Sharman Joshi) leaves no stone unturned to help him along.
The boy?s crabby grandpa (Boman Irani), who missed the bus in his heyday due to the machinations of a perfidious teammate and now spends all his waking hours in front of an old TV set munching on peanuts, works himself up into an unseemly lather when he learns that his son is about to spend a bomb to send the boy to England for a coaching stint.
But the old man has a change of heart quickly enough and the three generations of the Deboo family join forces in pursuit of glory.
Ferrari Ki Sawaari demonstrates that only a small misstep separates the simple-minded from the simplistic.
Directed by first-timer Rajesh Mapuskar, the film is rather easy to relate to but quite hard to be enthused by. For the most part, it is a bit like the middle overs of an ODI innings ? dull and desultory.
It has an unusual plot premise all right, but the connection between Sachin?s flaming-red Ferrari that is spirited away from its parking bay and taken on a merry spin across Mumbai and a young boy?s ambition to play at Lord?s and notch up 100 centuries for India is too far-fetched to be convincing.
What makes matters worse is the generally limpid pace of the narrative. To be fair, Ferrari Ki Sawaari has a lot going for it on the surface. Joshi, in the first lead role of his career, carries the film manfully on his shoulders and Seema Bhargava, playing a feisty wedding planner, steals every scene that she is in.
The production values are first-rate and the cinematography (Sudhir Palsane) is flawless. But that?s the bare minimum that you expect from a Vidhu Vinod Chopra production.
The film lacks the emotional potency to lift itself above the mundane and produce a winning stroke.
The squeaky clean Rustam is a laboured anachronism. An RTO employee who thinks nothing of going beyond the call of duty, he is a stickler for traffic rules, insists on paying a penalty for jumping a red signal and acquires a mobile phone when he hears a wedding planner reveal that the only calls she ever receives are from banks offering easy loans.
Rustam drives off in the Ferrari parked in Tendulkar?s garage ? the wedding planner needs the swanky crock desperately to feed the vanity of a politician and his about-to-be-married son and she promises to pay him the 1,50,000 rupees he needs to send his son to the Mecca of cricket.
The screenplay reveals its hands all too easily, and all too frequently. Once he receives the money, Rustam places the bundle of currency notes in the Ferrari?s glove-box. You instantly know he is going to leave the money behind. He does.
A little later, he clambers back into the car to retrieve the money and you immediately know that the covered vehicle will be stowed away with a sweaty Rustam strapped to the driver?s seat. It is.
In an important scene, Behram approaches his old back-stabbing teammate Dilip Dharamadhikari (Paresh Rawal in a cameo) for financial help ? the two men are meeting after 38 years and the treacherous friend is now a powerful cricket administrator ? and you know he will be turned away empty-handed. He is.
And of course you know that little Kayoze, despite all the pitfalls in his path, will realize his dream of walking on the hallowed turf of the Lord?s cricket ground. He does.
Ferrari Ki Sawaari is a thank you note to Sachin Tendulkar for inspiring a whole generation of young Indians to pick up the willow and knock the cricket ball around with intent.
It would have made its point a lot better had it been as crisp as a Sachin cover drive or as heart-pounding as the thrill of a Ferrari at full throttle. It?s neither.