Faadu: A Love Story looks like one of those old movies with a socialist bent that glorified honest poverty and looked down upon ambition and enterprise, notes Deepa Gahlot.
That slang word in the title Faadu: A Love Story is usually combined with another to form an obscenity.
Does a series, directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and written by Saumya Joshi, need to resort to vulgarity? Particularly since the title does not match the content?
The disappointment starts right there, and the 11 episodes that follow do nothing to assuage it.
Abhay Dubey (Pavail Gulati) is the son of an auto-driver (Daya Shankar Pandey), living in a slum (which is lovingly presented in the opening credits) with his ailing mother (Dipti Avlani) and alcoholic brother Roxy (Abhilash Thapliyal).
He keeps declaring that he wants to be rich but even after getting 94.7 per cent marks (and a big deal is made of it), he joins a literature course in college instead of commerce!
Just the first of the many facepalm bits in the series.
When he explains to the professor (who mispronounces Yeats) why he is late for class — cleaning sewage backing up into his hut and his mother’s stinking bed sores — his classmate Manjari (Saiyami Kher), in all seriousness, tells him that what he spoke was poetry, like Namdeo Dhasal and Narayan Surve (Dalit poets).
Manjiri is the daughter of Konkan postmaster (Girish Oak) and a down-to-earth mother (Ashvini Bhave), who instilled in her a love of poetry and sent her to a Mumbai college to study literature.
She gets starry-eyed in love instantly and pursues Abhay rather aggressively.
He is so impressed by her acceptance of his impoverished existence that he falls for her too, but with his dreams of wealth and privilege intact.
Using a quick con, he gets the money to book a luxury apartment, and hopes to make the remaining crores in a matka gamble, for which he mortgages everything his father acquired.
During his forays into the criminal underworld, he runs into RK (Gunjan Joshi), producer of soft porn films.
RK has his own code of ethics, and seems to have come out of some old script discarded by Mahesh Bhatt.
RK befriends Abhay, teaches him a thing or two about survival and vanishes, never to be seen again, which is a pity, since this was the most colourful track in the series.
Manjari is totally unfazed by these strange encounters and by Abhay’s moronic antics.
Next, he traps the good-for-nothing son (Hiren Rathod) of a jeweller and real estate magnate (Prashant Barot), and there is a very convoluted section of him trying to set up a land deal, being cheated by them and getting his own back.
He walks away with Rs 5 crore, which amazingly gets him that apartment in a complex so luxurious that Rs 5 crore would not be sufficient to buy a bathroom there. It is never explained what he actually does to afford that lifestyle, all he does is talk about his big ideas!
Manjari sits around looking disgruntled. There was mention of a PhD, which is quickly forgotten.
She has no life of her own.
All she wants is to discuss poetry with Abhay, prattling on about Sylvia Plath, as if she is the first to discover her.
Meanwhile, Abhay uses a neighbour, who is the brother of elusive industrialist Anand Udeshi (Shishir Sharma) to reach him because he has a world-changing scheme that only Udeshi can execute.
After chasing various members of the family, who are oddly immune to his unabashed social climbing, he gets an audience with Udeshi.
The great idea turns out to be micro-loans, which is neither original nor unique (Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Prize for it in 2006).
Udeshi and his chief henchman Adesh Mishra (Rakesh Chaturvedi) try to take over Abhay’s life, and get him to corrupt his honest cop buddy Tukaram (Deepak Sampat), who has some evidence against a minister cohort of the industrialist.
A politician with cops and media in his pocket cannot deal with a constable?
Udeshi is so impressed by Abhay’s mind that you wonder how he managed the intelligence to make and maintain his own fortune!
For no discernable reason, Abhay is sent to Serbia to address an important global summit, where he talks about the shampoo sachet revolution, which was initiated by Chinni Krishnan in the 1980s, and would hardly zap a summit of economists.
Abhay starts to feel that his desire for money has taken away everything from him, and put Udeshi’s dog chain around his neck (literally!), but all one can see on screen is a laughably delusional man.
If Abhay was actually portrayed as a kind of Walter Mitty — all fantasy, no skill — the series would still make some sense.
But he is supposed to be a hero in search of his hidden greatness.
It looks like a second season has been planned for the show, and one can only hope it is better thought out and presented.
Faadu looks like one of those old movies with a socialist bent that glorified honest poverty and looked down upon ambition and enterprise.
But Shree 420, to name one, had a credible conflict and resolution.
This show is just a collection of half-baked scenes that may or may connect with what has gone before or is about to come.
The mostly competent actors are trapped in a no-exit maze, at least some of them deserve better.
Faadu: A Love Story streams on SonyLIV.
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