Faraaz Movie Review: Glorious Performances By A Bunch Of Fresh Actors Elevate This Hansal Mehta Drama
‘Faraaz’ Movie Review: Glorious Performances By A Bunch Of Fresh Actors Elevate This Hansal Mehta Drama

Unlike a Shahid or an Omerta, although emotionally charged, the screen version of the poignant incident is not gripping enough to keep you invested in the goings on through its entire 1h 52m runtime

Director: Hansal Mehta
Writers: Ritesh Shah, Kashyap Kapoor, Raghav Kakkar
Cast: Aditya Rawal, Zahan Kapoor, Pallak Lalwani, Reshham Sahaani, Juhi Babbar, Aamir Ali, Sachin Lalwani
Rating: 3/5


Faraaz is based on the horrific incidents that unfolded inside the Holey Artisan Bakery in an upscale neighborhood in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Situated in the high-security diplomatic zone of Gulshan Thana, the posh Mediterranean-style café, tucked next to the Gulshan Lake, was popular among the expats.

On the night of 1 July 2016, around 8:45 pm, five young gunmen (identified as Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz, Meer Sameeh Mubashir, Shafiul Islam Ujjal, and Khairul Islam Payel), all hailing from affluent Bangladeshi families, stormed the café armed to teeth with guns, sharp weapons, and grenades, and held all the patrons along with the staff hostage.

What followed was a 12-hour siege that will leave 22 people — nine Italians, seven Japanese, two Bangladeshis, a Bangladeshi American, one Indian, and two policemen—dead. The jihadists sought out the foreigners and spared most of the Bangladeshi Muslims. When the commandos stormed the café under Operation Thunderbolt, all five Islamist militants, along with a chef , were killed. Only 13 hostages, some of whom the gunmen had allowed to walk out of the restaurant at daybreak, came out of this ordeal that is termed the deadliest terrorist attack in Bangladesh.

Among the 20 hostages killed by the militants, that night were Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, a student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA who hailed from one of the most prominent business families of the country, and his two friends – Abinta Kabir, a Bangladesh-born US citizen and also a student at Emory University, and Tarishi Jain, an Indian student of the University of California. It is claimed that being a Bangladeshi Muslim, he was given the opportunity to leave the premises but the twenty-year-old refused to abandon his two friends and accepted death. His was a selfless act of courage and defiance. He became a symbol of humanity and friendship and the hero the country desperately needed in those dark times.

Hansal Mehta pivots his eponymous movie around Faraaz and the final heroic if a tragic chapter of his life. Playing Faraaz – ‘Bangladesh ka Shehzaada’ and grandson of media mogul, Latifur Rahman—is the scion of the first family of Bollywood, and the grandson of Shashi Kapoor, Zahan. Pitched opposite him is Aditya Rawal (son of ace actor Paresh Rawal who made his debut with Bamfaad) as Nibras, the Monash University student who is shown commanding the gang of militants. The juxtaposition of the two youngsters, who played football together but now find themselves on the opposite side of the ideological divide, is established very well—it is subtle but hits you in the gut.

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Zahan gives a gritty performance as the calm and composed young student making futile but spirited attempts to diffuse the situation and keep his friends calm. He has two of the most poignant dialogues of the movie and his poise and earnestness ensure that those don’t come across as overly dramatic. Adtiya humanizes the character of Nibras with his nuanced performance. The scene where he is shunned by his beloved sister is undoubtedly one of the most powerful in the movie. The way he transitions from a freshly shattered sensitive but brainwashed youth to a violent and heartless trigger-happy monster before taking the final fatal decision reflects his range as an actor. Like Bhiku Mhatre in Satya, Faraaz becomes more of a Nibras film. It will be interesting to see his career trajectory from here.


The other debutant of the lot, Sachin Lalwani, is also impressive as the impetuous ruffian. A special mention must be made of Juhi Babbar, who plays Faraaz’s mother. She gives a powerful performance, one hopes her character was written better and with more sensitivity.

However, all is not well with this Hansal Mehta movie. It is not easy to turn real-life events into a gripping drama, more so, if it is a hostage situation unfolding inside a café that goes on for 12 hours. Real life doesn’t come with fast edits, cool dialogues, or a pulsating background score, and it is easy for boredom to set in. But this lull broken by the sudden escalation of mindless violence can be used to heighten the on-screen drama and jolt the audience.

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In the movie version, the attempt is to focus on Faraaz’s tragic but heroic end. But in doing so, it treats all the other hostages almost as paraphernalia. It doesn’t help that even Faraaz’s bond with his friends is not established or explored except for his decision to not leave them that day to save his own life. There is no build-up to an act of this magnitude. The terrorists get more screen time and dialogue, and in the process, the audience fails to form any emotional connection with the hostages. Then there is this pressing need to be ‘funny’ which comes across as jarring and forced. Faraaz is mostly shown as a scared boy huddled in the corner with his two friends. As an audience, it is difficult to invest in him. Then he gets to mouth two rather dramatic ‘heroic’ dialogues about Islam getting a bad reputation due to the jihadis. These might look great in a sleekly-cut trailer, but unlike in Scam, where the big filmy dialogues were weaved into the characterization, here these stick out. This good Muslim-bad Muslim bit comes too late in the movie and doesn’t feel organic. The movie attempts to focus on emotions, humanity, love, and friendship, rather than just the incident. But it is too detached in its approach and relies too much on preachy dialogues to create impact.


It doesn’t help that when the camera moves outside the café, the focus is only on Faraaz’s mother (played by Juhi Babbar). But instead of focusing on her grief and anxiety, much time is spent in her acting like a spoilt Delhi brat mouthing ‘janta hai mera baap kaun hai’. Instead of feeling the mother’s anguish and empathising with her, after a point you are irritated by her impractical demands and misuse of privilege amid a national crisis.

Also a tad disappointing is the portrayal of Bangladesh military and their counter assault, Operation Thunderbolt. Although the movie follows the initial chaotic response by the police and their unsuccessful attempt at breaching the bakery and securing the hostages, the movie doesn’t save an ounce of heroism for the armed forces of the country that eventually brought the siege to an end. If it is Faraaz’s story then why show the army just about struggling outside to come up with a plan and the PM smugly giving orders not to act over the phone? Creating one hero doesn’t require one to dismiss the other heroic acts that happened that day.  Also, as the camera moves outside the café, it breaks the claustrophobia (credit must be given here to Pratham Mehta’s cinematography for succeeding in creating the same) and the tension that the audience might have felt while watching the hostage situation unfold amid the confines of four walls.

The movie ends with a potent speech by Faraaz’s mother (taken from a real speech by Simeen Hossain) and it makes your eyes well up, but the scene seems to have been incorporated as an afterthought solely to hammer in the emotional impact that the movie otherwise falls short of creating.

There is one melancholic song, Musafir Ko Ghar Hi Jaana Hai. Sung by Vidhya Gopal, it has traces of Bengali folk music and is beautifully written and composed by Sameer Rahat. The editing by Amitesh Mukherjee is brisk but there are stretches where tedium sets in.

The irony is that Hansal Mehta is known for sensitive and deft handling of such stories and is probably the best bet among the contemporary directors to turn such a poignant incident into an engaging piece of cinema.


Although the movie boasts some good performances by the motley cast, it is the writing that lets this movie down. Unlike a Shahid or an Omerta, although emotionally charged, the screen version of the poignant incident is not gripping enough to keep you invested in the goings on. It seems that the writers wrote down a few poignant, powerful if a tad preachy dialogues (that also makes the core of the trailer) and then developed the movie as a vehicle to deliver those.

In an attempt to keep the focus doggedly on Faraaz’s last selfless act (the veracity of which might be debatable), the movie rushes through the actual Operation Thunderbolt as well as the tragedies of the other victims.

Cinema is as much as what you put inside the frame as it is what you decide to keep out. In Faraaz, the problem is not how much it follows the real incidents or if it can be deemed as ‘exploiting a horrifying tragedy for profit’, but that as a movie it falls short of creating the desired impact.

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