Faadu A Love Story Review: It's not your typical love story or a rags-to-riches tale, rather it's about Abhay's journey of love and overreaching ambition that will wrap you for the most part!
Encapsulating romantic dramas has become a lost art that's probably only found in the lanes of film history now. That's the tragedy that struck love stories from the advent of becoming content from films; they got lost in the process of progress instead of evolving with time. We're still to find the right formula for a love story of today and SonyLIV's Faadu comes close to it even if it's not apt. Faadu A Love Story feels more like an autobiography novel with chapters unfolding slowly and steadily which gets a little frustrating thanks to its 11 episodes and the repetition we find there.
It's a story of two polar opposite ideologies coming together to figure out this journey called life. Abhay (Pavail Gulati), who's too grounded in reality comes from a Mumbai slum with his autorickshaw-driving father (Daya Shankar Pandey), a terminally ill and bedridden mother, and a too-far-gone alcohol addict brother, Roxy (Abhilash Thapliyal). While Manjri (Saiyami Kher) comes from a well-balanced household in Konkan with her simple yet well-rimmed-in poetry father (Girish Oak) who is a postmaster and her mother who plays the role of a homemaker. Abhay and Manjiri meet at a college in Mumbai through a common literature class. She, a dreamy-eyed girl who is not oblivious to reality is attracted to Abhay's striking honesty while he, a believer in changing his reality too fast is attracted to her non-judgemental open mind. Hence a love story with the friction of contrast evolves that turns into an autobiography novel with various chapters shaping and shifting their journey.
There's a conversation between Abhay and Manjri where they talk about the dichotomy of poetry that sometimes it overcomplicates a simplistic subject or simplifies an over-complicated subject which becomes precisely the tonality of the series. Faadu's stark reality is dipped in poetry where at times it enhances the subject and otherwise unnecessarily interferes with it. This dichotomic approach of poetry to tell the narrative makes it fall into a series with euphoric potential - it could have been more than what it is now which is frustrating. And just as Abhay's never-ending ambition risen out of desperation to break out from the life of poverty and slum starts to become the reason for his fall, in the same way, somewhere the series' overreliance on its balanced and nuanced writing and direction inches it closer to being undone as a whole towards the end.
For one thing, the series' excessively long 11 episodes with a slow burn approach and its absurdity turn the narrative around making it a little hard to stick with. To believe that there could be a benevolent local gangster who helps out people or an over-understanding father who can hear his daughter's exploration into the lanes of prostitution or Abhay’s great ideas and strategies being presented with the least interesting culmination is often really hard to digest.
But in a culture of episode hooks and binge-watching, this works as a breaking-the-path story that deals with telling a story with its own rhythm and pace rather than hurrying it along. And in those terms, many of the decisions in the series do not follow the book just as its protagonist Abhay doesn’t and this gives a refreshing approach. From Manjri's open-to-everything non-judgemental attitude, Manjri's father's undying hope even in adverse situations, smaller characters like gangsters having a heart by saving one from a crippling mistake to various mentors who in their own way end up teaching valuable lessons in business, all offer to break the rut of stereotypes in content.
But most importantly, it breaks the pattern of escapist love stories that go from a meet-cute to a happy ending. Instead, it becomes about a real journey of love that's wrapped in ambition, poverty, poetry, and corruption. It could be because of the novel approach to the series that focuses on unraveling chapters as there are various jumps in the plot with new characters coming in every time. Manjri and Abhay's love story can be best defined as the dialogue which describes Manjri as a Bhutan who believes in celebrating the reality of life no matter what whereas Abhay is an America who believes in constantly changing reality and climbing up the ladder that has no end. Though it would have been great to see Manjri as more than just a silent contrast to Abhay's never-ending rage of the underprivileged.
The best thing about the series is that there is no king here, just team effort. If the writing by Saumya Joshi which includes dialogues is evocative then the direction by Aishwiny Iyer Tiwari tries its best and is successful in translating them onscreen. The visual intelligence by Navagat Prakash is intrusive and beautiful but not from a curious lens. It reminds us of the world that is very much existing amongst us but because of our tainted windows, it just stopped being invisible to us. The audio intelligence by Santhosh Narayanan heightens as well as makes you fall in love, especially the song 'saath' which is such a romantic melody. Both of these heighten the series just as its amazing acting power. Pavail Gulati carries the show on his shoulder and every part of his body from his eyes to his walking style embodies Abhay. Saiyami Kher is charming to watch but I wanted to see more out of her and her character, Manjri. Abhilash Thapliyal and Girish Oak leave a lasting impact in a way that you cannot help but watch them when they are in the scene.
A zidd is very important in every person's life as that's what makes you go from one place to another but it's also important to remember that the same zidd can turn harmful as well if you can't see beyond it. It could be said that this series has a character as the plot in its entirety who embodies its protagonists and their constant contrasts. And just as Abhay stops before he becomes completely blinded by his ambition, in the same way, I'm glad that the series got over before it completely cracked through its various undercooked details which would have undone the series itself.
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