Bollywood A-lister Shahid Kapoor makes his streaming debut with crime thriller “Farzi” on Amazon’s Prime Video service.
Through his career Kapoor has largely starred in films that are both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, including “Jab We Met,” “Kaminey,” “Haider,” “Udta Punjab” and “Padmaavat,” working with the cream of India’s filmmaking talent.
“Farzi” is led by renowned “The Family Man” creator duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK (together known as Raj & DK), who are the showrunners, directors and executive producers. The screenplay is written by Sita R. Menon and Suman Kumar along with Raj & DK. It is produced by the duo’s D2R films.
The show began life as a feature film that the duo were due to make with Kapoor but the story was too large to fit within a two and a half hour time frame.
“I felt that there was a lot of value attached to being a part of a story that is told over a longer period of time. It allows you to delve deeper into the character for the filmmakers, and it makes for content that’s more complete, immersive and experiential,” Kapoor told Variety. “You feel like you’re viewing the world in a very detailed manner, so I was very keen to do something like that, I wanted to do something that allows me to play a character that spread over five and a half, six hours.”
In “Farzi,” Kapoor plays Sunny, a street-smart Mumbai artist who along with his best friend Firoz (Bhuvan Arora) tries to help his grandfather’s (Amol Palekar) floundering revolutionary newspaper and printing press stay afloat. When all other avenues fail, Sunny, who can make flawless copies of artworks and Firoz, who is a printing expert, decide to forge banknotes. This brings them into the ambit of cop Michael (Tamil cinema star Vijay Sethupathi) and counterfeiting mafia don Mansoor (Kay Kay Menon). The cast also includes Raashii Khanna and Regina Cassandra in pivotal roles.
” ‘Farzi’ was a great template for us to talk about modern society, especially the middle class, the most neglected and the most angst-filled class – the under-appreciated and undervalued biggest section of the society… and to talk to the haves and have-nots, the whole juxtaposition of how especially Mumbai is, our country is – that’s the more deeper idea in it,” Raj told Variety.
The word ‘farzi’ literally means fake and Raj says that beyond the obvious association of the word with counterfeiting, the show looks at the inherent fakeness within people.
“Counterfeiting is a real problem that exists in the country and it’s also what we call a faceless crime – nobody thinks of it as a crime, it’s illegal of course, but nobody can really pinpoint what harm it causes, but when there are enough counterfeit notes, it can cause a lot of harm,” DK told Variety.
Amol Palekar, who plays the idealistic grandfather, was the epitome of the Indian middle class on screen in the Hindi-language cinema of the 1970s and had an enormously successful career playing everyman or “the quiet rebel” as Raj & DK describe him. Since then he has transitioned into a filmmaker and is very picky about his acting roles. Palekar acquiesced. The filmmakers felt appreciated when Palekar stayed on set as an observer after his portions of the scene were completed and gave them his wholehearted approval of their filming methods and also remarked on how they were progressive because of the number of women in the team.
Kapoor describes Palekar as the “emotional anchor” of “Farzi.” “He was just perfect for the part – he had the gravitas and the experience and the goodness and the integrity, the language, the face – the body of work that he has done adds to the show,” Kapoor said. “It was a privilege to have him on the show and to get to share screen space with the OG middle class good guy.”
Next up for Kapoor are two untitled films – an edgy action film by “Sultan” director Ali Abbas Zafar, set over one night, which is an adaptation of 2011 French thriller “Sleepless Night” that was previously adapted in India as Tamil-language film “Thoongaa Vanam” (2015); and a high concept quirky love story for “Bhediya” producer Maddock Films.
Raj & DK have series “Gulkanda Tales” coming up for Prime Video and “Guns & Gulaabs” for Netflix. They are currently shooting the Indian instalment of the Russo Brothers’ “Citadel” for Prime Video.
“As soon as we’re done with ‘Citadel’ we will have to move on to ‘The Family Man’ 3 because there’s a lot of people asking for it,” DK said. “We’re also eager to get onto it.”
“Farzi” streams from Feb. 10.