Farrey (which means ‘chit’) is a refreshing change from the many typical high-school dramas, which are currently flooding streaming services, and often pack in-your-face violence, sex and substance abuse. The movie, an official adaptation of Thai writer-director Nattawut Poonpriya’s acclaimed ‘Bad Genius’, instead throws the spotlight on its academically brilliant protagonist who is drawn into a web of manipulation and greed, before she picks up the art of hustling herself.
The movie introduces debutant Alizeh Agnihotri (Salman Khan’s niece), who may not exude the flamboyance of her star uncle but confidently essays the role of an exceptionally bright teenager who finds herself in a bind. Agnihotri plays the role of the ‘bad genius’ Niyati, who has been brought up in an orphanage by its warden and his wife. After becoming the state topper, Niyati ends up bagging a coveted scholarship that helps her secure a place at a prestigious international school. Her impressive score notwithstanding, Niyati is a misfit in the elite setup where students are driven around in luxury cars. But this genius is blessed with street-smartness and is quick to adapt to its ways.
What starts as an innocuous act of helping a classmate for Niyati, soon grows into a cheating racket during examinations. As more rich students get involved in it, the orphanage starts getting more donations and Niyati has money for her expenses. Soon, another bright but poor student Aakash, who had also bagged the scholarship, is drawn into this racket in spite of his initial resistance. The school-level cheating eventually spirals into an international-level fraud. What works in this ambitious plan-gone-horribly-awry kind of thriller is the taut storytelling that doesn’t lose its focus even as it builds the tension.
With a near-perfect ensemble cast, Farrey benefits from the strong performances of the newcomers as well as the veterans. Prasanna Bisht and Zeyn Shaw are impressive as Niyati’s spoiled and super rich classmates. As Aakash, Sahil Mehta brings out his character’s vulnerability, morality and, later on, his transformation. Ronit Roy is convincing as the orphanage’s warden, who showers fatherly love on Niyati. As his wife, Juhi Babbar Soni provides a perfect foil to him with her pragmatic approach. However, it is Agnihotri, whose intelligence as well as ambition is at the centre of Farrey, holds the story together and keeps her character relatable. She also deftly portrays Niyati’s transitions at different stages of the movie.
Though mostly effective in keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, with a few twists thrown in, Farrey lacks some key details that would have made the whole scam, plotted by a bunch of desperate teenagers, more believable. In the absence of these details, certain scenes appear unrealistic, even vague. The clash of two disparate worlds — that of super rich and poor students — is meant to deliver a gut punch. It fails to do so as the film holds itself back from digging deeper into the massive gulf between these two sections of the society and the transactional nature of these classmates’ friendship. Ethics can be fluid. This should have been examined in this drama where the poor and rich become frenemies.
The movie’s treatment bears flashes of director Soumendra Padhi’s earlier works — National award-winning feature Born to Run (2016) and web-series Jamtara. Padhi has co-written the film with Abhishek Yadav. The film, shot by Keiko Nakahara and edited by Zubin Sheikh, has the feel of a visually-impressive thriller.
Farrey movie cast: Alizeh Agnihotri, Sahil Mehta, Prasanna Bisht, Zeyn Shaw, Ronit Roy, Juhi Babbar Soni, Shilpa Shukla
Farrey movie director: Soumendra Padhi
Farrey movie rating: 3 stars