Farzi is average thriller, snail-paced and convoluted

Vijay Sethupati is the life of Farzi on Amazon Prime Video. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

The series chooses to deal with every possible angle, including the now-mandatory-for-web-series-personal-issues of the investigator, over here the person being Michael (Vijay Sethupati), whose obsession is nabbing counterfeiters. He is on the verge of divorce, drinks like a fish, and wants possession of his son Vyom (Divyam Shukla) while his wife Rekha (Regina Cassandra) wants out.

The protagonist, Sunny (Shahid Kapoor) is the grandson of a social revolutionary grandfather (Amol Palekar) and has a sob-sob back story. Grandpa (who he calls Naanu, which is spelt by Prime Video as ‘Nannu’!) is suffering from a senility-related disease that can be corrected by surgery. He runs a newspaper (called “Kranti” or revolution) from his own press and it’s a loss-making enterprise. Both Naanu and Sunny are wonderful artists who can reproduce any object or person to perfection. Sunny has a bosom childhood friend, Firoz (Bhuvan Arora) who docilely follows whatever he says or does.

The simple Sunny does not realize that there is a hidden devil within him. So when the future of the press (and Nanu’s health) is at stake, he decides to make fake Rs. 500 notes. The enterprise is spectacularly successful and Sunny soon becomes famous in criminal circles, especially with gangster Mansoor (Kay Kay Menon), who lives abroad, and is, incidentally, Michael’s prime target. The broad outlines of the rest of the story can be guessed by any seasoned viewer of such sagas.

And of course, we have the usual cliffhanger. After all, directors Raj & DK’s much-superior thriller, The Family Man¸ did go into a second season on demand. The co-writer-cum-director duo even attempts a brief crossover between the two series here. After all, counterfeit money is crime against the nation and is linked to terrorism, the pivot of The Family Man.

The biggest minus for this series is the inordinate length: we have to virtually sit through 400-plus minutes (8 episodes of around 50 minutes or more!), and it takes almost six episodes to really get into exciting zone. Sadly, each episode could have been crisper, with the in-the-final-analysis-irrelevant or extraneous sequences junked, if not at the writing level then with sharp editing in post-production.

And then, the climax, which has a lot of unusual shades and twists, suddenly ends on a grossly-unsatisfying note. To be continued…Oh sure, but will the counterfeiter continue to rock? What can be done rivetingly in the next season? To be honest, I am a shade optimistic here though, for The Family Man 2 was eons superior to the merely-good Season 1 of that saga!

The dialogues have an abundance of the subtle wit and humor for which Raj & DK are well-known, and so does their direction generally, but considerable logic and logistics are dispensed with for steamrolling the plot ahead. Also, methinks the emotions, especially between Sunny and grandfather and also Michael and family, are rather overdone. The camerawork (Pankaj Kumar) is rightly gritty.

Shahid Kapoor, looking correctly rakish, is good in another gray role, and giving him excellent company is Bhuvan Arora as Firoz. Kay Kay Menon as Mansoor and Zakir Hussain as Finance Minister Pawan Gahlot are entertaining indeed, and Raashii Khanna is superb as the Reserve Bank of India officer who joins the investigating team but is an emotionally-susceptible young woman at heart despite her commitment to the cause. Chittaranjan Giri as Yasir uncle is another powerful performer whose forte is his perfect facial expressions. Amol Palekar is alright as the idealistic Naanu. The rest of the artistes are alright for their characters.

But the man who outshines all is Vijay Sethupati as Michael. He is plain magnificent as the officer battling both the professional and personal issues overwhelming him and his clear mental bifurcation the two aspects of his life in both of which he is completely involved.

If tedium does not overtake me in this largely predictable saga, it is unreservedly because of this phenomenal talent.

Rating: ***

Amazon Prime Video presents Farzi  Produced and Directed by: Raj & DK Written by: Sita Menon, Raj & DK and Suman Kumar Music: Sachin-Jigar, Ketan Sodha & Tanishk Bagchi Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Vijay Sethupati, Amol Palekar, Raashii Khanna, Kay Kay Menon, Regina Cassandra, Zakir Hussain, Chittaranjan Giri, Jaswant Singh Dalal, Kubbra Sait, Kavya Thapar, Vijay Kumar, Saqib Ayub, Nilesh Divekar, Saurav Chakraborty, Mrinmayee Godbole, Govind Pandey, Divyam Shukla, Anna Ador, Uday Mahesh, Manoj Bajpayee (voice only) & others






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