The greats of our time, ABBA, had once said, “Money, money, money; must be funny in the rich man's world.” In a similar vein, in Farzi, Sunny (Shahid Kapoor) and his best friend Firoz (Bhuvan Arora) try to make a living in a world that proves how foolish the saying “Money can’t buy happiness” is.
Sunny and Firoz live under the watchful eye of the former’s naanu played with a serene brilliance by Amol Palekar. He is their caretaker, educator, and moral compass.
Sunny’s grandfather runs a revolutionary news publication called Kranti and when his life’s work is threatened by loan sharks, Sunny decides to take matters into his own hands.
Sunny is a skilled artist capable of churning out copies of artworks by the likes of Van Gogh and Firoz is a maestro at printing. Armed with these skill sets, they set out to make fake currency.
At first, it’s their version of kranti – a rebellion against a system that discards those not made of money – but soon they get dragged into the murky world of crime. The show never claims that Sunny’s dissent is moral or correct, it just is.
Shahid Kapoor shows incredible restraint as Sunny; his slow descent into crime and corruption captured beautifully by the actor. Matching step with him is Arora who plays an irreplaceable character in Sunny’s life and in the show. Arora’s comic timing and quick wit are on full display in Farzi.
Sunny and Firoz and their small-time operation of making sandwich notes in a printing press gets dragged into a cross-border counterfeit operation run by a wolf in wolf’s clothing, Mansoor Dalal (Kay Kay Menon).
Each episode of Farzi boasts a duration of almost an hour. For the first few episodes, this threatens to derail the show but the story remains gripping, salvaging it.
Mansoor is stuck in a cat-and-mouse chase with Michael and a snake-and-mongoose equivalence with Sunny. Kay Kay Menon, while flashy, conveys the conniving ways of Mansoor extremely well.
This entire “business plan” also gets them noticed by police officer Michael Vednayagam (Vijay Sethupathi) who blackmails and manipulates a corrupt politician (Zakir Hussain) into giving him an anti-counterfeiting task force.
A part of this task force is a RBI employee Megha Vyas (Raashii Khanna) who can detect fake notes simply by touch and has created a chip to help machines identify them too.
Vijay Sethupathi is charming to a fault and is as enigmatic as ever to watch on screen in what is his OTT debut.
He perfectly captures the character’s professional expertise and the emotional turbulence that rises from his troubled marriage with his estranged wife (Regina Cassandra).
The camerawork and editing work hand-in-hand to create a nearly mesmerising experience, mimicking the hypnotic nature of greed, fame, and power.
Raj and DK, with writers Sita R. Menon and Suman Kumar, are a masterclass in writing female characters into thrillers without resorting to lip-service or tokenism. Every character in Farzi is granted the same respect, except maybe the lead gets greater focus, and every actor steals the show.
Like the directors showed with their hit show The Family Man, they have an understanding of comedy in thrillers that is rare and formidable.
Farzi is packed with twists and turns but as is the danger of the genre, some of them are predictable. However, the show relies on its strong writing (sometimes amateurish cussing aside) to keep a viewer hooked.
Is Farzi a binge-worthy experience? Depends on where you stand on long-form content. But is it a gripping and meaty thriller worth your time? Absolutely.