The Freelancer Web Review: Mohit Raina, Anupam Kher Offer Sincere Performances In This Intriguing Spy Drama

The Freelancer Web Review: Mohit Raina, Anupam Kher Offer Sincere Performances In This Intriguing Spy Drama

Directed by Bhav Dhulia, the show is now streaming on Disney+Hotstar

Vijayalakshmi NarayananUpdated: Friday, September 01, 2023, 06:08 PM IST
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Director: Bhav Dhulia

Cast: Mohit Raina, Anupam Kher, Sushant Singh, Kashmira Pardeshi, Manjari Phadnis, Ayesha Raza Mishra, Sarah Jane Dias, Navneet Malik

Where: Streaming on Disney+Hotstar

Rating: 3.5 stars

Adapted from the pages of the book A Ticket To Syria, Bhav Dhulia of Khakee: The Bihar Chapter fame scripts a compelling geo-political thriller in The Freelancer, the new Neeraj Pandey-fronted web series that is now streaming on Disney+Hotstar.

Although to be fair, the series keeps switching between various countries and continents, hence it grapples with the challenges of holding your attention. Yet, it’s the sincere, compelling performances of its primary cast which continue to gauge your interest across its running length over four episodes, which summarise the first part of the show.

In its opening sequence alone, you know this isn’t going to be a smooth ride. A young woman is seen running across the narrow market lanes of Mardin in Turkey, wanting to escape from her captors. She is eventually knocked down by a moving vehicle. At the same time, ex-cop turned agent Avinash Kamath (Mohit Raina) who is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, is asked to annihilate a dreaded terrorist in Tajikistan. Turns out the woman in question Aliya (Kashmira Pardeshi) is the daughter of Kamath’s colleague Inayat Khan (Sushant Singh). She was wedded into a seemingly well-off family, based in Malaysia. Turns out the groom and his family have been brainwashed by radical elements and they denounce their family life to embrace the path of Jihad. The guilt of watching his daughter succumb to her circumstances forces Inayat to take his own life. And then, it is left to Kamath to ensure Aliya’s safety.

Given it’s able writing by Panday, Ritesh Shah and Shirish Thorat, The Freelancer deserves a notable mention to have a well-executed screenplay. Edited by Kathikuloth Praveen, the editing is taut, which is why while the proceedings span across locations, you don’t lose a grip on the narrative. This show is also a prime example of how richly can a thriller be shot without making it look too tense or claustrophobic. Cinematographers Tojo Xavier, Arvind Singh and Sudhir Palsane convert the mountainous Morocco to recreate Syria with conviction through their lenses.

The Freelancer also benefits largely if not entirely from the performances of its cast. While Raina is in great form when executing action, unfortunately the weakly written emotional scenes don’t offer a lot of scope for the actor to showcase his vulnerabilities. Which is disappointing considering that the actor can offer a lot of emotional depth. Anupam Kher as Kamath’s mentor has the best lines but one wishes that his character could’ve had more to contribute to the narrative. This might be something left to be seen when the remaining episodes drop eventually. Singh plays Inayat with the right amount of bravado and helplessness. As the worried father who runs from pillar to post to seek the whereabouts of his daughter, he is a treat to watch. Pardeshi delivers a confident act as Aliya. Viewers would certainly want to see more of her in the future. Manjiri Phadnis as Kamath’s wife Mrunal draws empathy even though she’s saddled with a weakly written part.

For those who relish the spy genre, The Freelancer delivers the thrills without compromising on its core subject. Definitely, a recommended binge for the weekend, should you choose to overlook its minor flaws.

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