Banesh Fene, a charming, witty and extremely sharp guy with daring nature and an uncanny knack for investigation who comes to Pune for a medical exam, witnesses a shocking incident. He ...
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Set in the 70's in rural India, four 9th grade kids were writing their destiny. Joshi (14) is madly in love with Shirodkar (14) a beautiful Indian looking girl. Both study in the same class. The age old question "What is love anyway?"
Banesh Fene, a charming, witty and extremely sharp guy with daring nature and an uncanny knack for investigation who comes to Pune for a medical exam, witnesses a shocking incident. He suspects foul play and with the help of his friends Aajoba, Aboli, and Bhubhu, Banesh decides to investigate more about the incident. Soon, he realizes that he has walked himself into trouble as he has to face off against Appa, a cruel criminal.
Being a proud fan of the exploits of Faster Fene (FaFe), I was a bit worried when I heard that the film was in production. The series spans across 20 books and features novels as well as short stories about Banesh aka Faster Fene, a street-smart school kid with great deductive powers and a persistent sense of adventure. A stalwart of Marathi children's literature, B R Bhagwat, created the character roughly half a century ago, and the upcoming film adaptation raised all sorts of questions in my mind. Who is the ideal audience for the film? The kids who idolized the character a generation ago or the present teenagers? Would the stories sound dated after all this time? Would the film follow the original time line or re imagine the character in the present? As it turns out, director Aditya Sarpotdar, and his screenwriter Kshitij Patwardhan have chosen the approach well. They are aware that nostalgia may be interesting for an audience of a certain age, but if the character has to survive and pave the way for possible sequels, it has to appeal to today's youth. This would only be possible if the character is entirely re imagined as a contemporary hero. So in a reboot of sorts, Fene arrives with an entirely new story set in the present time, with some details changed, but the spirit of the character intact. Banesh is a bit older now, appearing for a medical entrance exam.
Although the film makes a passing reference to FaFe's adventure in Pratapgad, narrated in one of the books, the film is an original story for all practical purposes. It introduces the character in great detail, shows off his abilities and vigor, introduces several other characters, forming a backdrop and setting stage for newer adventures. The city of Pune and B R Bhagwat appearing as one of the central figures complete the set-up.
After a catchy prologue that serves as a mini adventure in itself, FaFe (Wagh) appears for the entrance exam and is shocked to hear about a suicide of a fellow student soon after. He suspects foul play and decides to get to the bottom of things. Confronted with a massive scam with the diabolical villain Appa Andhare (Kulkarni) at its center, FaFe struggles to find a firm footing. He gets help from his childhood friend and young journo Aaboli (Pethe), a reformed young thief, Bhu- Bhu, (More) and Bhagwat (Prabhavalkar), a prolific writer suffering from a mental block.
Faster Fene plays out like a straight thriller, without any romantic interludes, family drama and other unnecessary filler material. The film is entirely without songs, and things move at a fast pace, ratcheting up the tension as the plot thickens. The update is complete with the use of contemporary technology from cellphones to Facebook live and new meanings to popular abbreviations. The film stretches one twist too many in the second half and just before the climax, launches into a long, unnecessary explanation, but these are relatively minor flaws.
The film features an excellent cast in roles large and small, but three characters are standouts: Amey Wagh who embodies FaFe so well that he is likely to please the young and old alike, Dilip Prabhavalkar in a smaller, but significant role of Bhagwat and Girish Kulkarni as Appa, the mastermind. Appa outshines FaFe in many sequences, the entrapment in the bus for example, and I won't be surprised if you subconsciously root for him to win, a victory of sorts for the celebrated actor.
My advice for the fans of the original books is to give the film a chance , without expecting it to be just like what you imagined. Let this be an auspicious new beginning for Faster Fene, the boy who has changed so much, while essentially managing to remain the same.
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