In Farrey, director Soumendra Padhi documents a new reality of our times when academic proficiency is not directly proportional to integrity. With the government scratching its feet from the education sector, schools have begun to look like five-star hotels where bright students with modest means easily fall prey to a new game of haves and have-nots. Those who have academic brilliance don’t have the money and those who have big bucks to keep such private enterprises running don’t have the brains to pass the competitive tests. In this ground fertile for corruption, there is ample scope for a morbid give and take.
For someone who traced the story of the phishing racket in Jamtara, Soumendra didn’t really need to turn to the Thai film Bad Genius for inspiration. There are plenty of solver gangs operating in the hinterland where brilliant students sell their brains to make quick money. Everyday vernacular newspapers have several column centimetres devoted to such stories.
But then Farrey is a Salman Khan production and a launch pad for his niece Alizeh Agnihotri. So, there has to be a certain scale and pomp. Instead of a Railway Board exam or a Bank Probationary Officer exam, the film talks about cracking the Oxford code by cheating one’s way through. The setting is not novel as it reminds one of the Netflix series Class (an adaptation of Elite), and while the modus operandi is not consistently believable, the intent behind the con is, and so are the characterisations and performances. Resisting the preachy tone and romantic interludes, Soumendra remains sincere to the task at hand and doesn’t fall for easy tropes that usually define such films.
Director: Soumendra Padhi
Cast: Alizeh Agnihotri, Prasanna Bisht, Ronit Roy, Sahil Mehta, Juhi Babbar
Run-time: 115 minutes
Storyline: Neeyati, a brilliant student from a humble background, gets enmeshed in a cheating scam after entering an elite school
The best part about the treatment is that Soumendra doesn’t see his characters of different economic and social backgrounds with a judgemental gaze and lets them play out the situation and emotion. For a change, in a film about teenagers, the actors don’t look overaged. Alizeh aces the part of Neeyati, a high school topper who falls into a trap. An orphan who grew up in a care home, she is blinded by the lucre that her well-heeled friend Chhavi (Prasanna Bisht) offers to ‘help’ her sail through a scholarship test. Neeyati has her reasons. She wants to support the orphanage and its doting caretaker (Ronit Roy).
Chhavi, who could easily have been a one-note character, turns out to be a victim of high expectations of her business tycoon father (Arbaaz Khan). Like Alizeh, Prasanna is also the find of the film. Both bring out the unsaid with remarkable fluidity. The way Chhavi offers her expensive mobile phones to Neeyati and the manner in which Neeyati opens the heavy door of Chhavi’s high-end car give us a sense of how one is sucked into a space where the line between right and wrong gets blurred.
Akash (Sahil Mehta) sails in the same boat as Neeyati but he chooses to stick to his morals. The story chooses not to turn him into a hero or a benchmark. Instead, Soumendra makes us face the real world where values are often short-circuited and where Akash threatens to become the new Neeyati.
Ronit and Juhi Babbar as his better half keep the narrative’s emotional quotient high and like the film don’t get carried away into the melodramatic zone.
An engaging story told with a lot of heart, Farrey deserves a chance.
Farrey is currently running in theatres
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