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Freddy’s worst crime is its presentation of introversion as if it were a contagious disease that needs to be contained within closed doors. Starring Kartik Aaryan and Alaya F, it is available for streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
Freddy, starring Kartik Aaryan as the titular dentist, is the spiritual remake of Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor’s 2004 cringe-fest of a film Fida that no one asked for.
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Directed by Shashanka Ghosh, best known for helming Sonam Kapoor films such as Khoobsurat (2014) and Vere Di Wedding (2018), Freddy is the story of a young introverted, socially awkward Parsi man haunted by the memory of his father shooting his mother and then killing himself. Parveez Shaikh’s screenplay uses this detail from Dr Freddy Ginwala’s past to justify his stunted emotional core and the gory vendetta he embarks upon in the film’s stilted second half.
Aaryan makes Freddy’s reclusiveness and debilitating discomfort around women look psychotic, a lot like how Aamir Khan crippled his Laal Singh Chadha by trying too hard. When he’s not wooden, Aaryan is incoherent. Instead of making the audience sympathise with his circumstance, he turns Freddy into a creep you want to keep your distance from. The film wants you to root for him but gives you no reasons. If anything, it painstakingly builds him as an antagonist with questionable behavior that it never cares to explain. For instance, Freddy cannot help staring at women’s cleavages. You wait for some sort of justification for it. Something like what Irrfan’s character tells Konkona Sen Sharma’s in Life in a Metro (2007), but it never comes.
Freddy’s problems are too many and too grave. It’s pointless to delve into them all, but I’ll try to recount the most disturbing. To start with, it appropriates Mumbai’s Parsi community worse than the films of the 1990s. It paints them in such lazy broad strokes, it reduces its characters to caricatures you feel nothing for. Written and directed by men, it plays up the archaic trope of a woman needing to be saved by a knight in shining armor and then turning to a classical vamp. Throughout the film, we find out precious little about her or what motivates her actions. We’re in 2022. Surely our films can do better and be smarter than this?
Alaya F’s Kainaz is the damsel in question, fed up with an insecure husband (inventively named Rustom) who needs little excuse to beat her. Freddy sees her at a party and falls for her in a heartbeat. He soon finds out her sob story and decides to remove Rustom from their way to manifest the perfect future he has visualized for them. As long as Rustom is alive, Kainaz is dressed in decorous salwar kameezzes. But the moment he dies, she switches to skimpy, satiny negligees and fitted westerns with a muscular boyfriend always in tow, who—surprise—is not our Freddy.
As the jilted Freddy tries to navigate the heartbreak, the film turns from bad to worse, paying no attention to specificities, logic, or narrative detail. Freddy’s trailer, in trying to describe this anomaly of a man, throws several adjectives at you. He is innocent, intelligent, truthful, quiet, shy, lonely, ingenious, naïve, nervous, repulsive, inciteful, conscious, and weak, it tells you. But the film does nothing to build these crucial character traits except one—repulsive. If what happens with Freddy is unjust, what he does to avenge it is plain amoral, twisted, and if found out, punishable by life imprisonment or death.
But Freddy’s worst crime is its presentation of introversion as if it were a contagious disease that needs to be contained within closed doors. As a personality trait, introversion is neither absolute nor is it always the result of a traumatic or abusive past. And it definitely does not look like what Ghosh and Aaryan will have you believe. On paper, they may have conceived Freddy as an introvert. But the man we endure on screen for 124 minutes is most definitely a sociopath battling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and in dire need of mental health assistance.
Fida was a bad idea even 18 years ago. It escapes me why anyone would want to rehash a stale story and find ingenious ways to tell it even more poorly. Freddy is available for streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.