Last year, Hansal Mehta described Faraaz under the same umbrella as his previous films Shahid (2012) and Omerta (2017). All three films have a number of things in common — a modern-day Muslim man battling with the idea of religion in today’s time. Much like Shahid and Omreta, Hansal takes a leaf off a real-life incident with Faraaz and delivers a powerful movie yet again. However, at some points, it feels like he takes it too far.
For the unversed, Faraaz is inspired by the attacks at Holey Artisan Bakery in Bangladesh that took place in July 2016. In the film, a fringe group attacks a restaurant in Dhaka, killing 29 people. While one of the victims named Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain (played by Zahan Kapoor in the film) is given the opportunity to leave owing to his religion, he refused to leave his two friends behind. This led to his and his friends’ deaths.
Hansal doesn’t take time to dive into action. Giving bare minimal time to associate with the characters, the director throws you along with his actors in the middle of the traumatic attack. The brutally raw writing by Raghav Kakkar, Kashyap Kapoor, and Ritesh Shah, and the close-to-reality cinematography are Faraaz’s biggest tools that Hansal uses to get under your skin. While the filmmaker’s focus appears to be exploring the minds and the influence the world has on five young minds, it tries to capture the bigger picture as well- bureaucracy, power game, and the blame game played by the parties involved. The narrative steers away from adding unnecessary doses of drama, trying as much as possible to narrate the hostage situation and deliver only hard-hitting lines in places needed.
In one way, Faraaz makes for a tight watch, wasting no time in unnecessary subplots and drama. In less than two hours, Hansal packs it all, probably making Faraaz one of his crispest films by far. Owing to the tight script, Faraaz doesn’t give you time to look away from the screen. However, this also backfires in the case of the titular role because there aren’t enough compelling scenes for viewers to get attached to Faraaz. The film seems heavily inclined towards Nibrus (Aditya Rawal), defeating the purpose of the title of the movie. The film could have had a few more scenes on Faraaz to make the audience moved by his sacrifice.
Supporting the writing of the film is cinematographer Pratham Mehta. While he not only captures the brutality of the mass murder with no emotions attached, there are scenes that make you feel suffocated, as though you are in the room with the hostages and gasping for air. Having said this, Pratham and Hansal take things a little too far in some scenes, forcing you to look away during gore scenes and hoping it all comes to an end soon.
Another complaint that people might have is the sound quality. While Hansal is trying to make the scenes as authentic as possible by making the stars whisper dialogues and have low-volume conversations, the sound is so low that you tend to not understand what the character has said.
The film is carried well by the lead and the supporting actors. Faraaz features a group of fresh faces — Aditya Rawal, Zahan Kapoor, Sachin Lalwani, Jatin Sareen, Ninad Bhatt, Harshal Pawar, Pallak Lalwani, and Reshham Sahaani — who follow Hansal’s orders to the tee. Aditya holds the film together, swiftly shifting gears to show his character’s unsteady mind. Meanwhile, Zahan is showing great potential much like his grandfather Shashi Kapoor did when he had just started off in films like Dharmputra (1961), The Householder (1963), and Waqt (1965). I am curious to see what he does next.
But you walk out of the theatre feeling moved by Juhi Babbar’s phenomenal performance as Faraaz’s mother. Juhi as the mother tries to pull all strings possible to save his son only to eventually surrender and take pride in his sacrifice, leaving a solid mark in the film.
A special shoutout to Sachin Lalwani, who played the role of Rohan, and successfully managed to get me annoyed with his character. The last time I felt like this was when I watched Arturo in Money Heist and all I could think was when will this character die?
Bottomline: Faraaz is a trademark Hansal Mehta film and is not for the weak-hearted. The film is bound to leave you disturbed and empty by the end of it. Watch it if you loved Shahid and Omreta.
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