Faadu A Love Story review: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's series is a stumbling misfire

Updated on Dec 09, 2022 06:57 PM IST

Faadu A Love Story review: Pavail Gulati and Saiyami Kher star in this story of greed and survival that means well but never holds a firm grip.

Pavail Gulati and Saiyami kher in a still from Faadu- A Love Story.
Pavail Gulati and Saiyami kher in a still from Faadu- A Love Story.
BySantanu Das

Early on Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's Faadu- A Love Story, streaming on SonyLiv, the protagonist Abhay (Pavail Gulati) pens a poem in a couple of minutes, and recites it to Manjari (Saiyami Kher) late at night. She's late to return to her hostel and doesn't mind. Manjari tears up listening to the poem, but the next second Abhay tears up the paper instead and tells her that poetry doesn't attract him at all. Why, she asks. Because there's no money in it, he says. Tiwari lets the shot stay a second longer on Abhay's face and it tells us how Abhay's circumstances have forced him to become this mercenary, even though he would want to explore other interests. (Also read: CAT review: Randeep Hooda shines in this thrill-a-minute ride from the Punjabi heartland)

Faadu- A Love Story reflects this pensive deliberation of its protagonist. Here is a work that purposefully tries to stop you in the tracks and consider these people who are trying to rise above their present circumstances. It is a template that has worked well for the director, whose Nil Battey Sannata, Bareilly Ki Barfi and even Panga are potraits of dogged resilience. Yet, Faadu stumbles quite early on, and never fully recovers from there on. We meet Abhay first, who announces in a voiceover that a person who studies for a degree doesn't really understand the world. We also meet Manjari along the way, who hails from Konkan and travels to Mumbai for her college. Even Abhay enrols himself for an English degree, but after two classes his interest his over. One wonders why he couldn't find a finance degree when he revers it more. Did he not have the option to choose?

That doesn't stop Manjari to hopelessly fall in love with him though- she writes back to her father regularly about her relationships, and calls him a living poem, comparing him to Namdeo Dhasal. Meanwhile Abhay has a recurring line of not being able to chase his dreams. Yet the way he chases his dreams, by gambling and then almost losing his father's auto and their house- in a matter of seconds boasts of nothing else but miscalculated recklessness. There is no zeal, only a sense of callous overconfidence. An entire episode is wasted in following Abhay's persistence that he has it in him to win the gambling bet. He even submits a down payment to book a room in a multi storey building on a whim. Manjari of course nods to every decision he makes with a submissive, teary-eyed glance. But then the entire decision is beautifully neglected and we move back to square one. As if Abhay and Manjari have forgotten about it entirely. We haven't. They marry soon, and in another unintentionally hilarious scene, Abhay begins to play the pipe in his own wedding because he believes he good at it. Do not ask for reasons on this tomfoolery because Faadu means to take this seriously.

It is baffling how Faadu continues to leave no stone unturned to mine out these out of place scenarios and wax them with unnecessary poetic dialogues. They instantly burden the overstretched narrative that just doesn't want to move ahead. The main problem isn't that the pace is slow, but primarily because it doesn't suit the narrative the series wants to drive. The characters come off as immature and lazy, careless and stubborn. Faadu wants to work as a love story but there's no love to be found- not at least in the never-ending stares in which Abhay and Manjari seem to communicate with. For that matter, there is absolutely no chemistry between the leads and the central love story barely achieves prominence in the painful progression of events. In one scene, Manjari- who is now working on her thesis, wants to buy a book for her research on Shakespeare, and to save money she suggests that she would rather sit on the shop and take notes rather than buying the book. That would save them two hundred rupees. Someone ought to have suggested her that research doesn't work this way. Neither does a marriage.

Pavail Gulati, whose breakout turn in Thappad was quite the revelation, is a surprising choice for the role of a slum dweller. He tries his best and is quite sincere in the way he responds to the numerous turns of the narrative but there's that odd upper-class English accent that instantly rattles off the believability. Saiyami Kher's Manjari is terribly one-note and never fully draws in as a portrait of a modern woman who has her own dreams and ambition. Abhilash Thapliyal's performance is perhaps the only tune that rings true in Faadu.

Faadu- A Love Story is a disappointing addition to Tiwari's oeuvre of work that fails to achieve a uniform sense of direction. Faadu presents itself as a love story stretched over 11 episodes that does not know what it wants to say. To say it tests your patience is an understatement. Not a single note in Saumya Joshi's screenplay connects to the truth. Abhay's main love is not Manjari, but a toxic one for money that overrules everything else. By the time his male ego gets hurt, he somehow finds his way back to his school Maths teacher, and then blames him for the mess he has created- you've had enough of him already. His journey will leave you with the same euphemism of frustration and exhaustion from which the series derives its title.

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