The Freelancer | The Conclusion: All’s well that ends terrifically

Mohit Raina in The Freelancer / The Conclusion. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Last September, I was more than a shade disillusioned when writer-creator Neeraj Pandey, under his home banner of Friday Filmworks, presented The Freelancer, which was very average fare compared to his other espionage works on big-screen and the web. I quote from my review, “But the series disappoints. Hopefully, the rest of the show will change my views for the better.” Yes, that was “Season 1” of a single story—four episodes only.

And to use an Americanism—“Whaddaya know!” The rest of the show does change my views for the (very much) better! And so I know the culprits: the forces that needlessly split a series into two seasons of a handful of episodes each! We saw this in Disney+Hotstar’s The Night Manager as well. And a couple of other shows on other platforms also followed this irritating new ‘tradition’.

Had I watched the third and fourth episodes as a part of this seven-episode series, I would have merely stated (if at all) that there is slackness midway. For this season (Episodes 5 to 7) are not just good, but terrific!

This time, Neeraj’s work (and that of co-writer Ritesh Shah) is in sync with the standards we have come to expect from him. The series, The Freelancer / The Conclusion is loosely based on A Ticket to Syria, a book by Shirish Thorat. The book is fictional but inspired by real incidents and though the doppelganger angle and other major changes are brought in without losing the core insight into fanatics Islamists who are ready to do anything, even die, for the cause of Islam. The script is crackerjack and more over here, with the right base of sentiments and emotions, even between Aliya (Kashmira Pardeshi), her husband (Navneet Malik) and Avinash (Mohit Raina), who is hell-bent on extracting her from Syria, where she is a helpless victim of a marriage that is being used for a heinous cause by her husband and his family.  Even co-writer Ritesh Shah gets redemption from his recent plebian work in silly ‘thrillers’ like Kadak Singh.

Bhav Dhulia’s direction, considered after due evaluation of all seven episodes, finds him getting firmer control as the series progresses. The same is the case with Mohit Raina as Avinash, the Freelancer of the series, who is brilliant as the determined man with a cause as the tensions escalate. Kashmira Pardeshi, in a dual role as Aliya and Sonia, superbly etches the completely contrasting characters. Everyone else does well, but I must single out Aakash Dabhade as Wilson, Breshna Khan as the rather dense yet cunning Nabeela, John Kokken as Raghavendra Sethu and Manjari Fadnis as the guilt-ridden Mrunal, Avinash’s wife, for their exceptionally skilled turns. And Anupam Kher is underutilized, but is as sharply effective as ever.

The action (Abbas Ali Moghul and Jérémie Vigot), cinematography (Arvind Singh and Sudheer Palsane), VFX (multiple names) and production design (Sukant Panigrahy) are excellent and the background score (Sanjoy Chowdhury) routine but very much in the background, as a good one must be, and perfect for creating the right mood—for the viewer.

This is one must-watch series yet again from the masters of screen espionage. They are called ‘Friday Storytellers’ but their sagas enliven every day of the week!

Rating: **** (For this season and overall now as well!)

Disney+Hotstar presents Friday Storytellers’ The Freelancer Season 2  Created and Written by: Neeraj Pandey  Produced by: Shital Bhatia  Directed by: Bhav Dhulia  Written by: Shirish Thorat, Neeraj Pandey, Ritesh Shah & Benazir Ali Fida Music: Sanjoy Chowdhury Starring: Mohit Raina, Kashmira Pardeshi, Anupam Kher, Ayesha Raza Mishra, Manjari Fadnis, Breshna Khan, Nadia, Navneet Malik, Sarah-Jane Dias, Arnav Maggo, Azad Chauhan, Farhana Bhat, Sameer Al Obaidli, Behzaad Khan, Geeta Agrawal Sharma, Hardika Sharma, Edward Sonnenblick, Danny Clifford, Balaji Gauri, John Kokken, Aakash Dabhade, Sairi Salma, Anouar Akerrmann, Emily R. Acland, Sangay Tsheltrim & others




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