Onto the next weekend release and I decided to watch the sole Hindi theatrical release this weekend(discounting starfish that had a very limited release), Farrey that marks the debut of Alizeh Agnihotri in the Hindi Film Industry. Now, there were a couple of things going in favour of Farrey instantly. Firstly, the trailer that was cut was impressive not only with respect to the concept it was dealing with, but also the dark realms which the drama was willing to push their viewers to. It instantly did paint a picture that ‘Cheating In An Exam’ was a relevant subject being dabbled with while also lacing it with some edgy frames that did make me standup and take note of it. Yes, it is an adaptation of the 2017 Thai film Bad Genius, but having Soumendra Padhi at the helm of it, the man behind shows like Jamtara, meant that the film was guaranteed to be in safe hands. I was also curious on how Alizeh would cope with her acting chops in the film. All these reasons meant that I was curious going into Farrey, so then does Farrey manage to impress, let’s find out.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the 2017 Thai film Bad Genius, Farrey follows the story of a national level topper who is lured by her rich friends to help them cheat in exams in exchange for money. But with every exam, the stakes get higher and murkier! The story here is thrilling in its own way and it makes for an engrossing watch despite being fairly predictable throughout the narrative. The screenplay standing at a touch under 2 hours is compelling and entertaining particularly with respect to the moments that are meticulously created. However, I wish there was a little more time invested in the characterization and the world building.
The drama opens with the introduction of the protagonist who is shown to have an affinity for helping people cheat in their exams. I did feel that the makers missed a trick here wherein they really could have developed the character of Niyati better which seemed to be interesting on paper for sure. The twisted virtue of wanting to help others while also being well aware that it is wrong was something that needed a little more nuance to eventually have a payback in the final act(which felt flat due to the lack of empathy for the character). Along with it, a little more of the world building would have really elevated the drama to another level. But the intention was a clear trade-off with the length of the drama, and that began to pay off once the protagonist entered school.
The proceedings are engaging and engrossing particularly when the ‘cheating’ game begins. I liked how the writers gave a clear motive to the protagonist of wanting to earn a quick buck while having seen poverty at the orphanage wherein she resides. So the lines between right and wrong blur much to the advantage of the drama wherein you are invested in the antics of the protagonists. The methods of cheating are indeed innovative and they have the ability to keep you on tenterhooks with the thrill element nicely sliding in the drama. I liked how the stakes are raised slowly but surely even though the drana remains fairly predictable. And that contributes heavily to the fun quotient in the drama.
The second half comprises of an elaborate ‘cheating’ sequence far away from home in Sydney and that entire sequence was thrilling and really well penned. This set up things wonderfully well for the final act, but alas! The final act was just so underwhelming wherein even the character arc of the protagonist seemed sudden with respect to her transformation. There was a twist in the tale waiting to happen that would have had a proper course correction, including giving out an important message. But the payback in the character of the protagonist rather the lack of it, coupled with a confused kind of writing with respect to its simplistic messaging did not quite complete the circle at the end. The lack of empathy was evident for Niyati and I couldn’t fathom on why the writers chose to simply conclude the drama in an underwhelming manner. But overall, the screenplay definitely has some shining moments that make you take notice while keeping you interested throughout.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues represent the Gen Z lingo particularly with respect to its setting perfectly. The music is decent but the songs deter the flow of the drama to a large extent. The BGM is good and adds weightage to the drama. The cinematography captures some captivating frames laced with a lot of tension that will keep you on tenterhooks. This is particularly true during the exam cheating sequences which are so well shot! The editing is pretty good as well throughout the narrative. Director Soumendra Padhi does a swell job in creating several tense moments throughout the narrative while also briefly traversing into the dark phase. His only little flaw is in ending the tale which seemed simplistic, whereas there could have been a psychological touch to the drama by getting into the psyche of the protagonist. But overall, he is an able filmmaker and performs splendedly in the direction department.
The performances are emaculate by the ensemble cast. Shilpa Shukla as Vedita has her moments to shine in a role wherein she performs with restraint. Juhi Babbar Soni as Zoya and Ronit Roy as the Warden are natural to the core while maintaining their poise beautifully. Zeyn Shaw as Prateek is wonderful to watch and I liked how confident he is onscreen. Prasanna Bisht as Chhavi is brilliant and I liked how she switched her characters traits from being sweet on your face to having hidden intentions within her. Sahil Mehta as Akash is pretty good as well as a student understanding the difference between right and wrong to finally giving in, and being blinded by money. Alizeh Agnihotri as Niyati is outstanding to the core. One of my parameters in judging a performance is whether that actor can convey the emotions to the viewer. And in that regard, Alizeh passes with flying colours. She has a towering presence onscreen and seems very secured as an actor too. She was lovely to watch and here is hoping for many more such performances.
Despite an underwhelming final act(an issue that I had with the original too), Farrey is a thrilling rendition of the original film Bad Genius that makes for a good one-time watch. Available in a theatre near you.