Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Vijay Sethupathi, Bhuvan Arora, Amol Palekar, Raashi Khanna, Kay Kay Menon, and ensemble.
Creator: Raj Nidimoru & Krishna D.K.
Director: Raj & D.K.
Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video.
Language: Hindi (with subtitles).
Runtime: 8 Episodes Around 60 Minutes Each.
An artist born to a tough childhood aspires to make it big and earn a fortune enough to buy all his dreams. He stumbles upon his talent of printing fake notes that are so close to original that even the top technology can create. He comes under the radar of a deadly syndicate and in no time finds himself involved in an international-level crime. It is the rise of a bad man with the fire of revenge in his eyes.
Raj & D.K. as creators since the very beginning has found humanity in the darkest corner of the world. It is their writing that tries to give the antagonist a story that not only keeps him/her in one tone part but develop a character that speaks to the audience. Be it Raji in The Family Man or multiple characters in The Shor In The City, they all are bad but it is several things in life that have pushed them to the wall. This time around with Farzi, they don’t shape a saviour and through him create a villain who will eventually unravel himself as we progress, but the other way around.
The aforementioned writing technique of shaping a villain with utmost conviction does two things. One it helps elevate the protagonist and his quest for the antagonist and two it creates a three-dimensional world that exists beyond what’s in the frame. In Farzi, the creator duo with Sita Menon and Suman Kumar in their writing room place the bad man in the centre and weave a tale around him. Of course, he doesn’t begin badly but it is his eventual rise to becoming a man loose with rage in his eye to destroy everyone who comes in his way no matter what side of the law they stand.
Sunny (Shahid Kapoor) is an interesting character that has spent most of his existence in South Bombay, right beside the most iconic spot of the city, the CSMT station. He was abandoned by his father, raised by a righteous maternal grandfather, and pressured by the conditioning of his socio-economic status. Every trauma has subjected him to aspire for everything bigger and out of his reach, as his friend Afroz says, “tujhe woh chahiye kyuki tujhe pata hai vo tere aukaat ke bahar Hain,” when he tries to publically date a rich girl. When he realises he has a talent that can bring big money but is a crime, he doesn’t even blink twice because he is not interested in calculating the risk, which will blur his aspiration.
It is interesting to see the writing trying to use the first season as an introduction to the world of Farzi and the story of his motivation to become a rouge killer. The idea of defining their protagonist Sunny’s entire existence as Farzi (fake) is very interesting. He has a brother he once found at the railway station he was abandoned by his father. The love he gives and gets is all farzi and add to it the fact that he feels all of that is real and reality is boring. He is pitched against a cop Michael (Vijay) who is literally the antithesis of any police officer who you have seen so far. He cannot drive, rarely even fires a bullet, is as reckless as it gets, and has a traumatic personal life.
Farzi gets the tonality just right. It has characters that are interesting and feel believable. Raj and DK even play very smartly when they give you a hint that they are creating an espionage universe when they bring in the biggest undercover officer from their kitty with his most secretive agent. Keep your ears open if you don’t want to miss these teases and Easter eggs.
The camera work in Farzi is needless to say very well and so is the set design and costume which show the characters progressing quite subtly. Dialogues don’t seem like written to read but feel like a conversation and that connects a viewer the most.
PS: The show goes too much into the details of printing fake currency, it is almost like watching a YouTube tutorial and learning. Good research but also risky.
Shahid Kapoor blends into Sunny quite organically. The best part is that he picks up the accent effortlessly and the Hindi slangs coming from him don’t look like an out-of-body experience. The actor takes lots of effort to become the guy oppressed by his condition. Even his face looks like it has soaked harsh sun. Playing a character that will eventually become a villain but will also stay the central part and is also not morally right but understanding that money doesn’t bring class is a tough task.
Bhuvan Arora has to be my favourite discovery in Farzi. The actor is so fun and effortless in what he does. He has the charm to make you laugh and also feel his emotions when he wants to. He uses his entire presence to create a performance and you can see it. Would love to see him do more soon.
Vijay Sethupathi performs with so much ease that only an actor of his stature can. You see him resting his head on his hands in a high-profile meeting making you realise that if any other actor approached this part with the same body language, he could have looked like a spoof but this is Vijay and he manages to find the quirk, and sell it pretty well. At one point he blackmails a top-order minister and you have to see that scene to understand his range.
Kay Kay Menon plays the big baddie and does a pretty good job too. But the character on the base level is written only to serve this story and go nowhere beyond. We don’t know where he comes from or what is his motivation at all.
Raashi Khanna does a good job at playing Megha with quite subtleness and not overdoing anything. Her absence in some major sequences is bothering though. Amol Palekar gets to play the grandfather and he is adorable as one. A righteous man who hates to take the corrupt route and has the ambition to make a righteous society. But his character is used too loosely in the later half of the show. He has a brain condition that makes him lose his memory but that doesn’t affect the main scheme of things at all after a point. He becomes highly inconsequential.
Farzi while having a lot of things very good is also confusing because you cannot decide if you should celebrate this or be worried about the fact that it doesn’t go beyond what Raj & DK have already created in the past. We have seen the two scale heights of long-format writing and how skilfully the two can keep an audience hooked to their content for ten long episodes without even complaining once.
Farzi in many places looks like the team decided to crack another IP with the formula that they had already tested. The world while being created to connect with The Family Man and eventually make them blend at some point, I suppose, doesn’t land well when made to stand solo. Because it almost looks like we have seen these twists translated by the same makers in the past. Like there is no twist that makes you go crazy like The Family Man, because that show already had some of the trajectories of this one. This isn’t a comparison but an observation.
Agreed that the show is shaped as an introduction to Sunny’s personal fall and his villainous rise. But it takes four long hours to come to its main conflict and when it does, the creators start writing in broad strokes without getting into the core. Like who is Kay Kay Menon? What is his story? Why is Raashi’s Megha not bothered where Sunny is during two major episodes of she had almost started dating him in the previous episode? She suddenly bounces back in the screenplay only to get intimate with Sunny and then fight him without knowing. Sunny gets three motivation points throughout the show to do the bad job and they all circle down to his grandfather but the climax for the latter comes so weirdly that it feels forced.
Having said that, Vijay Sethupathi as the reckless officer has a backstory of a failed operation and a strained marriage entangled in a custody war. Nothing of this has any impact on the main plot. He just roams around being a man-child but doesn’t get much to do in season one. Also, whoever approved the idea that Vijay and Shahid will have no single scene together in an entire 8-hour-long show should reconsider giving advices in life. It’s a crime and cannot be ignored.
Farzi is an introduction to the rise of a villain who is also the hero and might appear in Raj & D.K’s illustrious universe ahead. But one cannot ignore the fact that it is also walking a path already taken without much of uniqueness.