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Faraaz: The Film Stands Tall

February 06, 2023 17:54 IST
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The essence of the film is in its simplicity.
All the characters in the film look real. You can find them in your neighbours, colleges, cafes, theatres, observes Hemant Waje.

If you are stuck in a hostage-like situation and terrorists ask you to reveal your religious identity, what will you do?

Will you conceal it to save your life, or will you reveal it and face death?

You experience this dilemma in Hansal Mehta's Faraaz, based on the ghastly terror attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka on July 1, 2016, in which 22 people lost their lives, mostly foreign nationals.

The story takes place inside the café where five heavily-armed young terrorists indiscriminately open fire at civilians and take several others hostage.

The film narrates the story of Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, who had the option of fleeing to safety after the hostage-takers let him go but chose to stand by his two female friends.

The essence of the film is in its simplicity.

All the characters in the film look real. You can find them in your neighbours, colleges, cafes, theatres.

The film starts with how terrorists are getting ready on the day of the attack without any preparation. In fact, just hours before the attack, like many youngsters, they crack jokes, fight over food and ask their leader what to wear.

Being a hostage drama, the director could have been tempted to show more violence, (obviously the bloodshed has its own share in the film) but the focus is about what happened inside the cafe and outside.

Inside the café, the terrorists target the foreigners -- based on religion and region -- but at the same time, they also showcase empathy and fear.

The other story runs outside the café where the film shows how security personnel botched up the counterattack and the desperation of victims' relatives.


Even though the film's title talks about the 'hero' of the film, Faraaz, it has several heroes. You see only one or two known faces in the film but you relate with each of them.

Zahan Kapoor plays the titular Faraaz with restrain and calm.

But it is Aditya Rawal who has given a stellar performance as the terrorist leader, Nibras. From being empathetic to changing into a religious bigot, Aditya showcases a range of emotions.

Amir Ali, Jatin Sarin, Sachin Lalwani, Ninaad Shaunak Bhatt, Harshal Pawar, Reshham Sahaani and Ashish Bhatt give good support.

Juhi Babbar Soni, who plays Faraaz's mother, is fantastic. She has combined the role of a rich and caring mother, who tries everything to get her son out of the café.

Even as the story is unfolding in a 'non-Indian' location, the dialogues, the background remind us of our reality.

In one of the scenes, when Aditya Rawal tells a young girl why he has followed the path of terrorism, he says, 'Islam khatre me hai', that it used to rule the world many years ago and now, it's time to fight and get it back.

The film's pace is slow, but each scene makes you feel the plight of the hostages and relatives.

For example, the chef of the café hides his religious identity by saying that the name tag on his uniform is a spelling mistake. But when he cooks food for the terrorists and hostages, one of the terrorists sees Goddess Laxmi's wallpaper on his phone. You can feel the chef's fear.

The other strength of the film is its screenplay, written by Ritesh Shah, Kashyap Kapoor and Raghav Raj Kakker, based on Nuruzzaman Labu's book Holey Artisan: A Journalistic Investigation.

Even as the film has a message of courage and brotherhood, it doesn't try to impose on us. Instead, the flow of the story moves along smoothly with a clever climax at the end.

Hansal Mehta, who is known for his biographical films like Shahid, Aligarh, Omertà and the Web series Scam 1992, has once again shown its mastery over his story-telling craft. He has handled this subject with extreme sensitivity and care.

As the meaning of 'Faraaz' suggests, the film stands tall for peace, courage and brotherhood amid bigotry and prejudices.

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