“Farzi,” created and directed by Raj and DK, is about counterfeit money. On one side are those who are creating these fake notes, i.e., Sunny (Shahid Kapoor), Firoz, and Mansoor Dalal (along with his henchmen). And on the side, there are Michael (Vijay Sethupathi), Megha (Raashii Khanna), and Minister Gahlot (Zakir Hussain). Nanu (Amol Palekar) and Yasir Chacha (Chittaranjan Giri) are important characters, but they can’t be classified into either one of the aforementioned groups. Saira (Kubbra Sait) is more of a cameo character, but the extent of her abilities is immense. That’s why she deserves to be mentioned. Apart from them, there are many more recurring roles, with some even crossing over from “The Family Man.” However, since none of them have any defining personality traits of their own and are there to serve the central characters, let’s simply cut to the chase and talk about our main players.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Sunny lost his mother at a very young age and was looked after by his father, who was a fraudster. He was abandoned at a train station, where he spent his days sketching stuff on the platforms and earning money off of it. That’s where he met Firoz, with whom he learned how to save money, and his Nanu, from whom he learned how to paint. Sunny’s teenage years are a mystery, but he spent his adulthood trying to woo upper-class girls and making 5-minute portraits for people, as well as exact replicas of famous paintings. He watched over Nanu’s newspaper, “Kranti Magazine,” but his idealism didn’t rub off on him. That’s why, when it was on the brink of shutdown, Sunny used his artistic talent to print fake notes and get rich. Sunny’s whole arc is about greed and how it can give a person momentary fame and wealth and then bring him back to zero. Sunny kept telling himself that he was doing it all for Nanu, but we all knew that he was too self-centered to even admit that he was a selfish human being. It takes Nanu’s death for him to realize the kind of damage he has inflicted on himself and those around him. And since that is so overwhelming, the only reaction he can muster is bloody and fiery revenge.
Michael’s crusade largely revolved around arresting his nemesis, Firoz, and putting an end to the business of creating counterfeit notes. His subplot was about his estranged relationship with his wife, Rekha (Regina Cassandra), and his efforts to keep his bond with his son, Vyom (Divyam Shukla), intact. Sadly, neither of those two situations was in his hands. In his workplace, every step that he took had to be sanctioned by Gahlot. He had some leverage over there as he had access to Gahlot’s secrets, which he repeatedly used to get his work done. But when it came to his personal life, his incessant drinking and anger management issues made him ineligible for fatherhood. His manipulative tactics on the field also amounted to nothing, at least for the time being, as he failed to arrest Sunny even though he was holding on to his collar. I don’t know why the show wants me to gawp at Michael’s patriotism or empathize with him for ruining his marriage and losing custody of his son because both of those things are expected of him. That said, going by the similarities in Michael’s and Tiwari’s (from “The Family Man”) personal lives, I think Raj and DK have this absurd insecurity about husbands being abandoned by their wives and opting for men who are evidently better than their ex-husbands. Or is this what they think happens to patriotic law enforcers? You be the judge.
As mentioned before, Nanu represented a kind of old-school idealism that is absent among younger generations. He refused to adjust to any of the biggest changes that were happening around him and had supernatural qualities that apparently alerted him if someone was doing something wrong. That came with its own set of problems. Nanu’s determination to stick to newspapers instead of amplifying his voice via the internet put him at a disadvantage. The gap was eventually bridged by Sunny, but that came at a cost. His trust in Sunny, Firoz, and Yasir prevented him from seeing that something as illegal as printing fake money was happening right under his nose. However, that wasn’t the result of gross negligence alone. Nanu was also suffering from a form of dementia, which didn’t allow him to retain recent memories. He remembered things that had happened in the past very clearly, but he forgot what had happened a few days ago. And while everyone sympathized with Nanu’s predicament, only Sunny saw it as an opportunity to keep his operation running without letting Nanu remember that he had caught his grandson red-handed and ordered him to get out of his sight. Despite his deteriorating physical and mental health, Nanu continued to be a beacon of honesty and integrity, and he unintentionally requested Sunny to stop his illegal activities during their last interaction.
Firoz was the complete opposite of Nanu, as he supported anything and everything that Sunny did. His moral compass always pointed in the direction that Sunny wanted to go. Yes, he had skills of his own, e.g., being good at math, mixing and matching colors to get the perfect blend for a fake note, and masterfully negotiating any business deal. But he put none of that to use unless Sunny needed it. And why would he? His urge to beat class oppression aligned with that of Sunny’s. His thirst for opulence exceeded that of Sunny’s. So, of course, he rarely held Sunny back from doing anything. The only two times where he didn’t echo Sunny’s sentiments were when Sunny misbehaved with Yasir and when Sunny was in two minds about the deal that went on to seal their fate. What did that say about him? Firstly, he respected Yasir Chacha, who knew him and cared for the two of them when they were nothing, despite his ideological differences with him. And secondly, he didn’t have any instincts, which in a way, explained his jittery behavior as soon as things went south. That said, I don’t think that he abandoned Sunny, even though the show wants you to think so. He did board the train going out of Mumbai, but I have a feeling that “Farzi” Season 2 (if there’s going to be one) will show that he deboarded it to help Sunny out.
Mansoor wasn’t a novel concept. He was an amalgamation of many villains we have seen before. But Kay Kay Menon managed to portray Mansoor’s eccentricities, his inefficiency in the English language, and his allergy towards disloyal people in such an authentic way that it felt fresh. Mansoor wasn’t bound by family, friends, or any kind of belief system. The only thing that he seemed to believe in was printing and earning money. He wasn’t emotionally attached to any of his employees, as we saw him mercilessly kill one of his men after finding out that he was the mole. But while giving Jamal (Saurav Chakrabarti) the order to kill Sunny, he admitted that he had a soft spot for him. Maybe he was telling the truth about his emotional attachment to Sunny, or maybe he was feigning his love for Sunny to empathize with Jamal, who was having second thoughts about killing their best employee in cold blood. We did get glimpses of the real Mansoor when he faced Saira, as he would be seconds away from soiling his pants out of fear of what was going to happen to him if he made a wrong decision. Now, with all his counterfeit money gone (because Sunny burned it after Mansoor’s men burned down “Kranti Magazine”), it’ll be interesting to see Mansoor build himself up from scratch while looking over his shoulder for a murderous Sunny.
The writing around Megha came off as a little weird. She was imbued with qualities such as standing up to one’s mother, who kept pestering her to get married, detecting if a note was real or fake by just touching it, and the ambition to work in the field despite starting off as an RBI officer. However, her attraction to Sunny made her so stupid that she couldn’t recognize his true nature. Maybe that happens when a person is in love, but what are you going to say about the moment Sunny snuck up on Megha as she was looking around the “Kranti Magazine” building for clues? Did her peripheral vision and ability to sense a presence right behind her completely shut down? With all that said, it was nice to see a female character calling the shots in an operation that was largely filled with men. At one point, Megha even said that if a girl went on a mission, the enemy wouldn’t suspect her to be a part of the law enforcement agency. That showed us that Megha was aware of the apparent sexism in her field and in society, but she was willing to use it to her benefit instead of letting it define her. I am not sure how much of that we’re going to see in “Farzi” Season 2 because it’s likely going to focus on Sunny and Megha’s relationship.
Gahlot straddled the line between a realistic depiction of an Indian politician and an absolute caricature. I can understand the reasoning behind it because a truly accurate portrayal of Indian politicians is going to ruffle some feathers in high places. Anyway, despite all the over-the-top theatrics of Gahlot, the writers managed to get one thing right: Indian politicians only care about how they are going to get the most votes. Patriotism, inter-party enmity, or caring about the people are just eyewash to make everyone think that they represent the people. But in reality, they are vampires who are living off the endless supply of tax money that is coming from the people. Gahlot was shown to be susceptible to manipulation by Michael, as he had many secrets that he didn’t want to reveal to the world. That’s why he agreed to sanction every single one of Michael’s decisions. However, by the end of “Farzi,” it was still unclear if any of Gahlot’s politically motivated moves were going to help him in the long run. There’s a chance that Mansoor will get away with it all or get killed by the vengeful Sunny before the Indian government gets to him. In that case, Gahlot will be left with a legacy where he spent lakhs and possibly crores of rupees on missions that amounted to nothing. And that’s likely when we’ll get to see the kind of damage Gahlot is capable of inflicting on people like Michael and Megha.
Yasir oscillated between being an ardent supporter of Sunny’s attempt to save “Kranti Magazine” and the one to remind Sunny that he was veering away from his original goal and going into something truly sinister. To be honest, he wasn’t on board from the get-go when it came to printing money to pay off Nanu’s debts. But when he saw that Sunny’s notes were as good as the original, he agreed to help him out and save Nanu and his magazine from extinction. That said, as soon as he saw Mansoor, he backed out. Even though Sunny interpreted that as a betrayal of sorts, Yasir stood his ground and underscored Sunny’s hypocrisy. By the end of the show, his warning calls had gone from being the senile ramblings of an old man to heartfelt suggestions that everyone should’ve listened to. There’s no way of saying what would’ve happened if Sunny had listened to Yasir and broken his deal with Mansoor. However, we can speculate that he is going to join Sunny in his quest for vengeance against Mansoor. Or do you think he’s too good to seek blood for blood?
Although Saira appeared on the screen three to five times, Kubbra Sait managed to make her presence memorable. It was clear that she wasn’t someone to be trifled with. Her proximity to her and Mansoor’s boss allowed her to ominously mention the consequences of failure. She gave us words of wisdom like “no one is indispensable.” And she commanded the respect of Mansoor’s guards, even though they were Mansoor’s employees. Now, I have a feeling that there’s no high command. Saira is the boss. I am basing that assumption on the fact that Kubbra Sait, of all people, is playing that character, and it’ll be stupid to show some man who’s in charge and calling the shots. I think that’s going to be the big reveal, and it’ll hopefully subvert everyone’s expectations of the show and the character of Saira.