Farzi Series Review: Fun and flamboyance with a side-order of deja vu
Farzi feels like a very wholesome first season setting up the right kind of vibes for the second season
There's something endearing about Shahid Kapoor indulging himself in a long con. We saw it first in Badmaash Company, where he turned up the charm to con his way through his problems. Since then, through films like Kaminey, Udta Punjab, Kabir Singh, and Jersey, Shahid has proved his credentials as being the go-to man to represent the circle of life. You get aspirations, ambition, anguish, and overwhelming angst. In Raj and DK's latest Prime Video series, Farzi, we see him embodying the struggler Sunny, who finds a way to monetise his skill of being a master forger of art. We see him deliver a gamut of emotions as he hits the highs and lows expected out of a film about a con artist.
Created by: Raj and DK
Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Vijay Sethupathi, Raashi Khanna, Zakir Hussain
Streaming On: Prime Video
Vijay Sethupathi's Michael Devanayagam is the perfect foil to Shahid's Sunny. In fact, the writers of Farzi do a wonderful job of mirroring the lives of Michael and Sunny. It is a bit disappointing that what could have been a nice hat-tip to Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can isn't explored enough in Farzi. It would have been fun to see the sentimental and enterprising world of Sunny colliding with the emotional yet sobering world of Michael.
While the two worlds are fascinating, for sure, there is an overwhelming sense of deja vu. We have seen Michael and his family life going through the same problems that Mr Srikant Tiwari and Suchi faced in Raj and DK's very own The Family Man series. While there is no doubt that the writers saw this too, and probably used the same beats to reflect the monotony in the lives of these unsung heroes of modern-day India. But, Tiwari's life is too recent in our memory that Micheal's problems don't really make us empathise with him.
We have no such problems with Sunny's descent into the world of counterfeiting as his father and grandfather (a terrific Amol Palekar) issues are well-explored in Farzi. His friendship with Bhuvan Arora's Firoz is heartwarming, and the makers give Sunny a lot of breathing space. As the hugely original Sunny unravels into becoming someone people around him don't recognise anymore, his 'farzi-ness' feels very real. There is a quaint melancholy amidst all the ruckus in Sunny's life. Points to the Farzi team for the way they've sketched Raashi Khanna's Megha. Of course, the romance between Sunny and Megha is a template move, but there are enough subversions that keep these scenes ticking. Raashi is such a lovely presence, and her scenes with both Shahid and Vijay Sethupathi are some of the more organic ones in the series.
The representation of the South is once again vibrant in Farzi with the presence of Vijay Sethupathi and Regina Cassandra who play a Tamil-Telugu couple who are undergoing marital problems. There is a smattering of Tamil and Telugu that feels natural. Even when these characters, especially Vijay Sethupathi, speak in Hindi, it doesn't feel force-fit into the narrative. Such decisions should be applauded for normalising the multilingual diversity that our content could aspire to.
The ensemble is terrific in Farzi, and each actor does justice to the intricately written characters. Right from Shahid, Vijay and Raashi to Bhuvan, Amol, and Zakir Hussain (playing a hilarious minister), there are multiple layers to each of their characters. These layers are also found in the way the narrative unfolds. Shahid is immersive as Sunny, and it is fun to see him enjoy his role. The same can be said of Vijay Sethupathi, who in his demeanour has a lot of Mohanlal from Company. The matter-of-fact dialogue delivery and his cool composure, and the stoicness of his performance are a delight to watch. For people who know of him, it would feel like he is having a ball, and for those who don't, it is a good start to the calibre of Vijay Sethupathi. We see dualities of parenting, ambition, bureaucracy, and the greyness between right and wrong being explored through the two men.
Although the entire counterfeit business is showcased with a rather flimsy beginning, we are soon engrossed about the world thanks to the flamboyant performance of an ever-reliable Kay Kay Menon. Through expositions, voice-overs, and teacher-student montages, we soon plummet into this world nearly captured by the makers. Probably why the final act feels rushed considering everything is crammed.
Nevertheless, Farzi feels like a very wholesome first season setting up the right kind of vibes for the second season. But more than anything, what is most exciting about Farzi is how Raj and DK are developing a universe of their own. The random namedropping of Tiwari, a couple of brilliant cameos, and the tantalising prospects of a Michael-Tiwari meet-up a la Pathaan and a Tiger are enough to be excited about a Season 2.