Onto the final release of the weekend and I finally finished watching the new Hindi series Faadu which is streaming on SonyLiv. The series was one of my most anticipated watches of the weekend and the reason for it was Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari. It wouldn’t be wrong of me to say that Ashwiny has a unique style of presenting even the simplest stories. There is a lot of subtext and emotions in the drama that demands that the audience invest in it, in order to completely get the gist of it. And Faadu was one such drama that did get me intrigued about what it had to offer. It was touted as ‘a love story’ yet the treatment from its trailer was evident enough that there is more to it. Backed on an OTT platform SonyLiv who does like taking risks, I was really looking forward to Faadu. On a side note, it was heartening to see SonyLiv release all 11 episodes in a single go as opposed to the fractured approach as seen in the 12 episode Hindi series Tanaav. So then does Faadu manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Faadu is one such drama that you must venture in without any pre-conceived notions, only to completely surrender to the vision of the filmmaker. Because the drama has a lot to offer and take in. Straight up, the screenplay standing at 11 episodes ranging from 30 odd minutes to an hour makes for a laboured watch and surely the number of episodes needed to be reduced. Also, the nature of the drama is such that you will not be able to binge-watch it in a single go. Having said that, there are layers of philosophy that are waiting to be discovered through this brilliantly absorbing drama.
Before I get into any details, let me address the elephant in the room. It will be the easiest to dismiss this drama because of its length and the leisurely screenplay which unfolds. The drama is niche in many ways and will not cater to everyone. It is intellectual and philosophical, and if you are expecting an entertaining and enjoyable ride then you will most likely be disappointed. But if you are willing to grind in and dig deeper in this drama, then there are Easter eggs to be had!
I was kind of surprised that this drama was touted as ‘A Love Story’. Yes, love story does have a stake here but this is more like a life story or chapters in the life of a ‘rags to riches’ person. In fact, it almost unfolds like a fictional biopic in what is typically a three act structure. It starts from the lowest point where the two protagonists belonging to humble backgrounds , both diabolically opposite in nature fall in love with one another. The guy is over ambitious and a hustler who wants to reach the ladder of success sooner than ever. The girl is reserved, practical yet a silent support to his ‘madness’.
The writers make for an interesting approach here, almost rushing through the initial bit of the love story only to get to the layered part that requires patience to sit through it and understand the nuances. There are so many characters thrown in along the way, some that enter and exit soon after, and never to be seen again, more like life in general. The setting constantly changes from the chawls to the high rises and even further, yet the lesson to be learnt is that the more you venture towards the top, you start getting left out more often than not. And this is regarding the people around you. The non hurried approach allows you to comprehend the subtle nuances as they unfold, in an approach which is quite unique in more ways than one!
In corporate, we often have a term called ‘the work-life balance’ which generally means you need that equilibrium in your life where no one aspect overpowers the other. So this rags to riches story does offer a life lesson on this aspect as well. As children we were taught, slow and steady wins the race. It was only in adulthood that I understood this life lesson even better. Life is an endless race and it is not as fast as you run that will get to your goals, rather your ability to endure things that will result in better outcomes. And such life lessons are sprinkled throughout the narrative, either through a few characters or the situations where the protagonist finda himself in or poignant lines of poetry that beautifully express the mindset of the characters(I say that because I love writing poetry too and had been doing so until lately).
But there are a few shortcomings too. There are innumerable subplots that do take time to unfold and some of them could have been left out on the edit table. Another drawback(for a few, not me) is that there are frequent tonal shifts in the drama, so you as a viewer are never completely settled in it. The proceedings are heavy and take a while to absorb which may result in lethargy to an extent. The final act too does run out of steam wherein you find it rambling in circles leading to an underwhelming finale. Yet, the base of the drama is strong and resourceful that encourages the viewer to dig deeper. So overall, the screenplay is niche and something that may not be appealing to everyone but it is intellectual and philosophical with a beautiful use of poetry sprinkled in the narrative.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are poetic, poignant and quite captivating in the message that they want to convey. The music and BGM are ‘Faadu’ and blend beautifully with the drama. The cinematography captures each of the setting aesthetically that results in a drama that is deeply rooted to reality. Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari does an incredible job simply by pushing the envelope of filmmaking here. I did see shades of Vishal Bharadwaj here although at times she did go slightly overboard and a touch too indulgent. Yet, the direction here is a strong feature of the drama that encourages the viewers to apply themselves in unfamiliar territory!
The performances are excellent here. Tirrtha Murbaadkar as Savita has her moments to shine. Deepak Sampat as Tukya and Gunjan Joshi as RK are incredibly good. Manini Chadha as Bhamini and Kunj Anand as Ujjwal are impressive in their respective roles. Dayashankar Pandey and Girish Oak essay two diobolically different fathers with different traits and characteristics, one stern and the other forgiving, and both manage to do a brilliant job. Shishir Sharma as Anant delivers anothet dignified performance in a character which was subtly calculative. Very well restraint indeed! Abhilash Thapliyal is such a brilliant actor and if you were to ask why, I would say watch both his performances this week – in Blurr and here as Roxy in Faadu. His character had a distinct character arc which started from the lowest and slowly made it to the top, from his character’s personal point of view which was similar to Pavail’s character from the finance point of view yet opposite if you consider the personality traits of both characters. An incredible performance by fabulous performer!
Saiyami Kher as Manjiri looks so pretty and is equally affectionate and sincere in her performance. She is subtly charming and such a natural onscreen that you did wish that her character did get a little more scope especially in the second half of the series. She is a prolific performer and she delivers a towering act here. Pavail Gulati is an extremely gifted and a talented actor and I was the happiest seeing him pull it off beautifully as Abhay. The character had so many shades and so many emotions to it, and you needed a skilled actor to nail it. And Pavail absolutely hits the ball out of the park here with his performance. He is brilliant in every frame and commands your attention throughout.
Faadu is niche and a slow burn, something that may not be appreciated by everyone. Yet it is intellectual and philosophical in so many ways which does make for a nuanced and textured watch with splendid performances. Available on SonyLiv.