Pavail Gulati has played Abhay convincingly and so has Sayami Kher brought Manjiri to life. (Image credit: Sony Liv)
There is a certain way in which heroes have been conventionally introduced so far. His entry was always meant to be heroic and grand to cast an everlasting impression on the mind of audiences. However, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari breaks this unwritten norm in the eight-part series ‘Faadu’ and sets the tone for a new-age love story.
Abhay Dubey played by Pavail Gulati is introduced to the audience in the most stinky and unconventional manner – in a public toilet. He lives in a slum in Kanjurmarg and the maker has made no attempt to dress up his environs to make it palatable. It’s a real slice of life that we want to avoid when we go to watch a movie. He is poor, his father is an autorickshaw driver, his brother an alcoholic, and his mother is bedridden and on the verge of dying. Abhay is an intelligent student and has scored 94 percent and is hell-bent on making it big in the real world, by hook or crook. Pavail has made sure that Abhay immediately has the audience’s sympathy. The scene which explains the reasons for him being late to the college, a monologue of around 5 minutes, is clap worthy.
Far from this stinking world, in the lap of nature in Konkan, we meet our heroine Manjiri (Sayami Kher), another brilliant student for whom life is a beautiful poem. Her father has taught her to see poetry in everything. Therefore, when she meets Abhay as her classmate in Mumbai in a literature class where Yeats is being taught, she sees Namdeo Dhasal in him. For her, his coarseness and rawness is beautiful, lyrical, and poetic. The twain meet, fall in love, and marry.
The first two and a half episodes of the series streaming on SonyLiv are absolutely rocking. Be it the background score, the cinematography or the writing, the dialogues or its delivery, everything has you in thrall. However, as with many well-intentioned projects, it fails to sustain the momentum and becomes a labyrinth of love that gets on your nerves. Instead of a love story post the worlds of Ghalib and Gucci meet, it becomes a rags-to-riches story of Abhay. That too is very filmy and at times comical.
Pavail Gulati has played Abhay convincingly and so has Sayami Kher brought Manjiri to life. However, the major issue lies in the characterization of Manjiri. It is not only one-dimensional but is unbelievable. Even after being a contemporary woman, there is absolutely no practicality in her character. Most of the time she is just shown as overwhelmed and hypnotized by Abhay. She lives in a make-believe world of literature and poetry. She is shown to be maturity and patience personified. Such people do not exist.
The story, screenplay, and dialogues are by Saumya Joshi. The dialogues for the most part are rocking while the story and the screenplay degenerate with each episode. By the time you reach the last, i.e. 11th episode, you are exhausted by the constant hammering of Abhay’s bid to become rich. Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s direction loses its direction after two and a half episodes and becomes banal.
The cinematography by Navgat Prakash is breathtaking, especially the way the scenes in the slum are shot. You feel the stench and are taken aback by the claustrophobic setting. Music and BGM and Santosh Narayanan is in line with the story and so are the meaningful lyrics by Kausar Munir.
There is a very brilliant use of motifs here which is generally not seen. Be it rural life vs urban, the horse scene, or the gold chain which Abhay is wearing. Each has a distinct purpose and plays a part. The contrast in urban and rural life is beautifully shown through the depiction of a village in Konkan and Mumbai. While obviously, life in Konkan is pristine, the life of those staying in Kanjurmarg is shown to be full of struggle. People from Konkan are shown to be poetic and drunk on life, while those from Mumbai are practical and require alcohol to get high.
Similarly, the chain which Abhay wears has a pendant with two As. It’s used as a symbol of the control of his office over him. It alludes to a belt put around a dog’s neck to control him.
Another riveting portion is the communication between Manjiri and her father played by veteran Marathi actor Girish Oak. It is mostly epistolary and riveting. Ashwini Bhave as Manjiri’s mother is completely wasted as she neither has a meaty role nor gets much screen space.
Frequently, the sequences in ‘Faadu’ get poetic but in the end, something that was meant to be a love story ends up as a blank verse – lengthy, abstract, and flat. It might just rip your patience apart.
‘Faadu’ is currently streaming on SonyLiv.