Thank God It Is Friday and there is a lot of work to be done this weekend with a plethora of new releases. So lets get to them one by one! First up, I finished watching the new Tamil film(trilingual) Farhana which is out in a theatre near you. And quite honestly, one of the reasons why I was looking forward to watching the film was Aishwarya Rajesh, who I believe is a prolific performer and one of my favourite actors in the circuit. While I may not fully agree to some of her choices, there really hasn’t been a lack of effort from her, always putting forth a powerful performance.
I usually like to go into a film blind and that is exactly how I went into the film Farhana too. I knew nothing about the film and what it did stand for, apart from its intriguing poster featuring Aishwarya Rajesh in a hijab. The film did run into its share of controversies wherein a religious group had taken objection to certain dialogues(needs fact-checking), and precisely for that Farhana had become a talking point. With the denial on the part of the producers, the controversy was put at bay. But I was really hoping for an exciting little film as I did venture into Farhana with a lot of hope! So then does Farhana manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Farhana follows the story of a protagonist from an orthodox Muslim family who gets herself a job at a call center amidst financial difficulties. But soon a ‘friendship service’ does push her in a pickle. The story here is an innovative thriller that does keep you on your toes throughout. The concept of befriending a stranger only to eventually land up in trouble does make for an exciting thriller given how unpredictable the situation is for both the protagonist and the viewers. The screenplay standing at about a 140 minutes does seem slightly long to begin with, wherein it could have been 10 minutes shorter, but it is not short of entertainment!
The drama does open on a slightly odd sequence of a girl making out with a guy while he is driving. This premise does end with a group of men barging into the room of the couple, to the shock of the girl. Now why I say that it is odd is because there was no real context provided(intentionally done) and the sequence in itself seemed to be more about grabbing eyeballs of the viewers. Soon, you are introduced to the protagonist who is living in an orthodox Muslim household.
The financial pressures coupled with the inability of her husband to earn enough to support her household, does prompt her to take up a job. It is in this sequence where I did like the world building which was filled with traces of patriarchy(from the character of the father-in-law), while also highlighting the importance of education in a brief manner. The idea of a working woman was frowned upon(the protagonist did not even own a cell phone) and that did set the mindset of the protagonist pretty well. Yet, the character of the husband does give hope to her, simply with his ability to adapt to the fast growing world while showing his care for his wife(buying her a new pair of slippers on her first day to work).
The proceedings are interesting and engrossing given how rapidly the drama moves from one scene to another. The writers unassumingly introduce a conflict at the work place wherein the protagonist befriends a stranger over a call. This concept of strangers befriending each other was previously tapped into in the Hindi Film The Lunchbox and the drama here did head in that direction briefly. It did seem to be a start of a sweet little blossoming relationship oblivious to anyone at the protagonist’s place. The events are slightly repetitive but heartwarming in its structure where you as a viewer begin to root for the new found relationship to prosper. Also, I did like how the identity of the stranger was kept under wraps all throughout. The turn of events at the halfway mark though does paint a different picture as the film does switch genres!
The events in the second hour are almost edge-of-the-seat stuff with a little cat and mouse game that does unfold. I did like how the writers did use that opening sequence and tie it up with the main plot of the film. The twist and turns are pretty interesting where the audience were lead in a certain way before making a U-Turn. I was quite engaged in the drama and was curious to know on how things would transpire. While the events leading up to the final act are good(including a nice little subplot involving the character of the father-in-law), I did feel that this drama did need a little backstory on the stranger to justify his actions. Yes, there were hints thrown in but a full fledged backstory would have enhanced the impact even more. Also, the final act is a tad underwhelming, given how simplistic and rushed the chain of events were(they really ought to have been layered). But taking nothing away from the screenplay which was pretty well written and made for a solid impact.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are decently well penned and makes for a decent impact. The music is pretty good. The BGM is pulsating and keeps the drama throbbing with excitement, although I did feel at times that the BGM and the mood of the drama were slightly off sync. The cinematography is good capturing the vibe of the drama and the city of Chennai really well(including some thrilling visuals of the metro). The editing is crisp for the most parts of the film. Director Nelson Venkatesan does a good job by keeping the audience on their toes in this innovative thriller. A little steadiness towards the end could have enhanced the product even more. But overall, a good job done!
The performances are really good by the ensemble despite a few characters not being as well etched out. Aishwarya Dutta as Sophie has a stunning presence onscreen and she does a good job. Anumol as Farhana’s friend is first rate and has her moments to shine. Selvaraghavan is outstanding here and he does a great job. Jithan Ramesh as Karim is wonderfully understated and brings about the vulnerability to his character just so well. This was quite an endearing character and showcased very well by Jithan. Aishwarya Rajesh as Farhana is outstanding and the best written character of the film. There are so many emotions that she had to play with and it required an experienced actor to pull it off with perfection. The sympathies of the viewers always had to be with her character and she ensures that wonderfully well. This was quite a towering act by a brilliant actor!
Despite a simplistic final act, Farhana is an innovative and pacy thriller backed by some great performances that makes for a good watch. Available in a theatre near you.