Faraaz isn’t an easy film to watch, neither would it have been easy to make. This Hansal Mehta directorial is based on the 2016 Dhaka terror attack, when five armed young men stormed into the Holey Artisan Bakery, and killed as many as 20 people — most of which were foreign nationals — and took several others hostage which mostly included Bangladeshi Muslims. The film depicts the bigotry the system has been long fighting with. A gut-wrenching tale coupled with some stellar performances, Faraaz hits hard. It’s gruesome in parts and emotional at some places. Also read: Faraaz director Hansal Mehta says only way to counter bigotry is through stories: ‘I will keep fighting through cinema’
Faraaz narrates the story of Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain (debutant Zahan Kapoor), who put up a brave face and stood against the hate, without giving in to what the terrorists wanted. He refused to abandon his two female friends at the time of attack and was shot dead along with them. The scenes that have been recreated inside the cafe bring back the horror and fear, leaving a lump in your throat. Through a series of conversations between Faraaz and Nibris (debutant Aditya Rawal), we are told that they had attended college together and even played a friendly football match. That’s when you realise the amount of brainwashing involved, and how these men are forced into religious wars and violence without having any remorse in taking innocent lives.
While the tragedy shook Bangladesh and remains one of the deadliest Islamic attacks in the history of the country, Mehta ensures he handles this poignant subject with extreme sensitivity. The story, co-written by Ritesh Shah, Kashyap Kapoor and Raghav Kakkar grips you tight and keeps you engaged for most parts. Pratham Mehta’s cinematography is on-point the way it captures the shocking violence and shows how a high-end cafe got ravaged in a matter of minutes. The film shows just the right amount of bloodshed but has immense shock value with closeup shots of bullet wounds.
Another thing that makes Faraaz worth a watch are some fine performances. Juhi Babbar Soni, who plays Faraaz’s mother is terrific as a helpless woman who wants to save her son at any cost. Hailing from an influential and powerful family, she pulls all strings, but terror strikes and all goes in vain. Even in scenes where she panics, she brings a sense of calm to all the chaos around her. Zahan Kapoor, grandson of late veteran actor Shashi Kapoor, makes his acting debut playing the titular Faraaz. He delivers a restrained performance and emotes beautifully – be it his calm posture, aggression or a sense of fear. The introduction scene where Faraaz is talking to his mother and brother about sending him abroad for higher studies, establishes his character but that’s about it. I really wished the film told me a little more about Faraaz and the ideologies he believed in.
While Zahan makes a decent debut, it’s the antagonist Aditya Rawal’s brutal portrayal as the brainwashed youth that leaves you in awe. He delivers an impressive act. Be it dialogue delivery, the confidence he exudes while playing a terrorist or moments of compassion and emotional turmoil, his character is far more layered than anyone else in the film. Other boys who play terrorists are all newcomers and have picked up the right nuances of their respective characters.
All being said, the highlight of Faraaz remains the soulful, moving lyrics of the song Musafir Ko Ghar Hi Jaana Hai. Written and composed by Sameer Rahat, it makes you feel the pain of the families who lost their loved ones and instils a sense of hope. Faraaz doesn’t set out to send you home with a moral lesson yet puts across its point very subtly.
Cast: Juhi Babbar Soni, Zahan Kapoor, Aditya Rawal, Aamir Ali
Director: Hansal Mehta