Faraaz is superficial, superfluous cinema

 

The eternal debate on what is Islam has been raging in cinema and on the web, fuelled by a number of stories on the radical versus, if I may use the term, rational Muslim. But while it has been tellingly done in a few movies and series (like the very recent Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke), the rest prefer to thrust this done-to-death (literally too, when we consider the murders shown on screen!) theme ad infinitum on us. Last seen on the big-screen in stylized manner just a week ago in Pathaan, this dictum that terrorism has no religion is coming out of our ears by now.

Yes, we know that Islamic countries are also suffering from radical extremists and fanatics, but does that have to be repeated so often?

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Just one point: Genuine patriotic Muslims in India do not need such films. The radicals do not need them either—for obvious and altogether different reasons! The film is thus superfluous—something not needed at all today, when we really need series like Special Ops, Avrodh and Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke to show dramatized reality. We cannot really have enough of cinema to arouse patriotic feelings—irrespective of religion. That will remain the need of the hour!

Producer Anubhav’s last production, Anek, was another saga that was totally unidentifiable for the majority, but it still focused on the issues facing a remote part of our country. This one replays (in fictitious mode, we are told right at the beginning) a real 2016 terrorist attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery—which is in Dhaka in Bangladesh!

The five terrorists open fire arbitrarily shooting foreigners, staff and sundry, and suddenly the leader, Nibrus (Aditya Rawal) says, “Spare the Bangaldeshi Muslims!” Really! Were the staff non-Muslim or Muslim foreigners then?

After the bloody and horrendous attack, the five young boys remain where they were, waiting for the authorities to come and kill them so that ‘jannat’ (heaven) is achieved, by keeping about forty people, men, women and children, hostage, The next morning, they even release the hostages, with Nibrus, almost smilingly (!!!) requesting them to inform the authorities that they had treated them well. A poet-singer among the café’s guests is even made to pose with the five, and is later tortured by the cops because that picture is releases, when he could have easily asked the police to check with the other survivors when he insisted that he was not one of the extremists!

Mehta and his writers (What is the talented Ritesh Shah doing here??) even thrust an Indian Muslim girl into the story, and another Bangladeshi Hindu—shown by a picture of Goddess Durga in his phone!—whose life is spared because he cooks for the terrorists. Nibrus even offers bottles of beverage to two small kids and later tries to teach one to shoot, and dominates a weirdo in the gang who challenges his decisions and wants more mayhem.

Now if that is meant to show a ‘good’ terrorist, Hansal-sir, tell me another!

Through the protagonist Faraaz (Zahaan Kapoor), modeled on a young man who took on the five armed men in the real incident, we get arguments on what Islam actually is as Nibrus gives him his own brainwashed interpretation. Zahaan comes from a political lineage and his mother (Juhi Babbar) generally makes a nuisance of herself by meddling into the police, SWAT and military operations at the venue.

Juhi performs well, as does the army chief (an actor whose name I do not know), while Aditya Rawal is good in most sequences. Zahaan is sincere, but his facial expressions tend to be repetitious and limited and he needs better directors and, most certainly, better scripts! The rest of the young boys are fine. The weirdo is another actor whose identity I do not know, and he is effective too.

Technically, the film boasts of great cinematography (Pratham Mehta). The rest of the technical side is alright.

And speaking of the viewer resonating with the victims, I would rather watch the searing reality-based movies and web series (like Major last year) than such superfluous films made with the vested interest of a filmmaker wanting to preserve an image for himself. Hansal had directed the superbly brilliant Scam 1992 for the web in 2021. But this one is—very simply and factually—his Scam 2023!

Rating: *1/2

T-Series Films, Benares Mediaworks & Mahana Films’ Faraaz  Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishen Kumar, Anubhav Sinha, Sahil Saigal, Sakshi Bhatt & Mazahir Mandsaurwala  Directed by: Hansal Mehta  Written by: Ritesh Shah, Raghav Kakkar & Kashyap Kapoor  Music: Sameer Rahat  Starring: Aditya Rawal, Zahaan Kapoor, Juhi Babbar, Aamir Ali, Abhirami Bose, Nitin Goel, Harshal Pawar, Ninaad Shaunak Bhatt, Sachin Lalwani, Jatin Sarin, Reshham Sahaani, Pallak Lalwani & others

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