Faraaz movie review: Hansal Mehta’s hostage drama has a funny bone and a golden heart
The film doesn’t get muddled in melodrama and imparts its message between chuckles
Faraaz is a funny film. It might sound odd to put that label on a movie which shows young Islamic terrorists taking patrons of a café hostage for an entire night. Director Hansal Mehta, however, with his sheer brilliance, finds ample humour even in such edgy situations. The great part? It’s not forced.
Director: Hansal Mehta
Writers: Ritesh Shah, Kashyap Kapoor and Raghav Kakkar
Starring: Aditya Rawal, Zahaan Kapoor, Juhi Babbar and Aamir Ali
July 1, 2016. Five attackers storm the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan Thana, an upscale neighbourhood in Bangladesh’s Dhaka. They slice open a guard’s throat and indiscriminately shoot people, mostly foreigners, in the neck. Actions aside, they are polite and modern. They address each other as ‘bro’ and not ‘biradar’ and there are no ‘inshallahs’ or ‘ameens’ in their lingo. Mehta not only steers clear of cliches, he even pokes fun at them. In a scene after cops have besieged the café, the police commissioner announces via a megaphone, “Police ne tumhe chaaro taraf se gher liya hain, yaha se bach ke nikalne ka koi raasta nahi hai” (Police has surrounded you from all sides, there is no way of escaping). A rusted line from an 80s film. The police chief then looks back irritably at his subordinate, “Who writes all this?”
It is always intriguing to understand the lives of people before and after a tragedy. Recently, Prashant Nair’s Trial By Fire did it with such beautiful nuance. Faraaz also walks on the same path but with a spring in its step. When it introduces the “terrorists”, they seem like a bunch of lads from a college hostel, late for a football match. One won’t get out of bed, another is deep into a dirty magazine and the third--with a Sunnah beard—requests for more reps on the bench press. “You know, I need to pump bro.” They sit for lunch and fight over chicken pieces and then get chided by their handler who, for some reason, is wearing a tracksuit. I was awaiting a ‘sattar minute’ speech. Parallelly, 20-year-old Faraaz Hossain (debutant Zahan Kapoor), grandson of Latifur Rehman (then chairman of Transcom Group, a big Bangladeshi conglomerate) is looking out of a glass door. His mother wants him to go to Stanford, he wants to stay in Bangladesh. He bursts and storms off to his room. Later, he apologises to his mother and smiles coyly as she pecks his cheek. “Whatever happens, I’ll make you proud mom.” It might seem like a situation straight out of a Zindagi channel soap but it does leave an ache in the heart.
In the café, however, Mehta finds darkly comic ways to ease the tension, both for the audience and the patrons. Aditya Rawal, as head terrorist Nibras, asks one of the hostages--a “long-haired rockstar”--to play the guitar and sing a song because people are feeling sleepy. The situation seems like it is out of a house party gone awfully wrong. When Rawal tells a kid about the “glorious days of Islam” he is not quoting from the Quran or the Hadith but narrating it like a fairytale. “We had the biggest missiles.” The attackers take a selfie when they are lauded by their handler and argue about the aesthetics of a dead body’s picture.
But, amidst all this, Mehta doesn’t lose the core of his story. Faraaz sticks to being the larger commentary, not just on Islamic terrorism but on extremism in general. Faraaz and Nibras know each other from before and have played football together. Their argument on religion and reclaiming Islam has the urgency and the brevity of penalty shootouts. Even when given a pass, Faraaz refuses to abandon his friends, one of them, a Hindu. The terrorists did it to be remembered, Faraaz did it for humanity, and he stood tall.