You know right at the beginning of Farzi (Fake) that the first season will not end swimmingly well for most of its characters. There’s the fed-up with the socio-economic-inequity duo Sunny (Shahid Kapoor) and Firoz (Bhuvan Arora, superb), who begin to realize the actual value of the former’s delicate artistic flourishes that seem to belong not in canvases that house recreations of masterpieces but in recreating the finery of every currency note. The series may not make a mint owner of you, but it inserts fascinating accounts of forgeries and the intricacies involved in bringing out molds of the crispies. It makes you want these louts to succeed—forgery is hard work, for Gandhi’s sake, and that’s the dark route Sunny takes as he segues from a diffident, uncertain variety to a devil-cares-addict-to-money. The joy isn’t counting the fortune but beating the system that got Sunny and Firoz here. Here’s also where Sunny’s grandfather and the owner of a running-out-money-to-pay-for-the-ink printing press owner of floundering paper Kranti Patrika, Madhav (Amol Palekar) is—ready to shut shop, flummoxed by the fact that low circulation equals no money equals the fat chance of keeping the press going.
Director duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. helm the series with a tight hand: most of the time. Cowriting with Suman Kumar and Sita Menon, they bring their sparkling observation of societal mores and no-mores, even as they complete the circle of conflict with the law enforcement agency, Counterfeiting & Currency Fraud Analysis & Research Team (CCFART), that’s threatening to run out gas, but propped by its head Michael Vedanayagam (Vijay Sethupathi, an au naturel highlight) who gets money to power his mission to catch counterfeiters by squeezing politico Pawan Gahlot (Zakir Hussain). There’s rookie Megha Vyas (Raashii Khanna, sparkling and sincere), who comes in from the RBI to join CCFART in its mission, while the other end of the law is headed by Mansoor Dalal (Kay Kay Menon, having a ball with English vocabulary and art critiquing) based out of Jordan and whose fate in turn, slowly and surely is in the vice-like grip of the mysterious Saira (Kubbra Sait, limited in her role, but hopefully waiting to open up in future seasons).
Farzi works best when it’s refereeing shadowboxing matches between Sunny-Firoz and Michael-Megha, creating circles of tight suspense as manipulations and skullduggery crash into relations and investigations. The scenes between Michael and Pawan are a hoot, with Sethupathi and Hussain timing their sparring with snappy beat and punch. Where it touches you is when Kapoor and Amol Palekar share scene space; the latter is fabulous, lending a genteel touch to the proceedings, showing the boys how it’s done. Or when the fantastic Chittaranjan Giri, playing Yasir, Madhav’s confidante and an employee at the press, is onscreen, watching Sunny dissolve into an ink of darkness he can’t fathom. Where it falters, and badly at that, is when it forcibly inserts Raj-DK’s wildly successful The Family Man template into Michael’s arc. There’s a disgruntled wife—Regina Cassandra’s sharp talent blunted by poor scripting—and impending court separation loaded with embarrassingly weak scenes between the duo. It worked there. It doesn’t here, never mind the aww-inducing scenes between Michael and his in-laws. So stop; unless there are plans for a joint counseling session with Srikant Tiwari and Michael in the future.
As these characters spiral into an imploding end, they burn and crash, and while that seems like something you’ve seen earlier, it keeps you hooked. Shahid Kapoor’s drop into an ace menace in the climax may require some stretch of the imagination, but this is one of the actor’s best in recent times, and his Sunny’s breaking point is devastating. As Sunny and Michael spin on opposite sides of the same coin, they realize, as do you, that it’s not what you pull off on your loved ones or the law that’s the biggest con. It’s the justification story you use to fool yourself into keeping at it.
Movie data powered by IMDb. All images owned by the producers. Farzi is streaming on Prime Video and rated A (For adults only) for violent cussing.
Director Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru Time ~ 56min
Writers Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru, Suman Kumar, Sita Menon
Stars Shahid Kapoor, Vijay Sethupathi, Amol Palekar, Bhuvan Arora, Zakir Hussain, Raashii Khanna, Kay Kay Menon, Regina Cassandra, Chittaranjan Giri
Genres Crime, Drama, Thriller