Based on the book ‘A Ticket to Syria’. Avinash Kamath, an ex-cop turned mercenary takes up the daunting task of rescuing Aliya, a newly married girl trapped in war-torn Syria against the backdrop of growing ISIS terrorism.
It’s Review Time: 7
Cast & Crew:
Directed by Bhav Dhulia.
Based on a book, ‘A Ticket to Syria‘ by Shirish Thorat.
Written by Neeraj Pandey and Ritesh Shah.
Mohit Raina as Avinash Kamath.
Manjari Fadnnis as Mrunal Kamath.
Anupam Kher as Dr. Arif Khan.
Kashmira Pardeshi as Aliya Khan and Soniya Shah.
Sushant Singh as Inayat Khan.
Ayesha Raza Mishra as Sabeena Khan.
Navneet Malik as Mohsin Fazal.
Shahid Latief as Khalid Fazal.
Geeta Agrawal Sharma as Asar Fazal.
Arnav Maggo as Sameer Fazal.
Breshna Khan as Nabeela.
Balaji Gauri as Farhat Khala.
Sameer Al Obaidli as Maqsood.
The series starts in Mardin, Turkey where we see a girl, later known to us as Aliya, running from someone chasing her and is later caught as she was run over by a car, later we get to know that it was driven by his husband, Mohsin.
with a scene where we see Avinash Kamath and his crew right in the middle of the action as a freelance hitman with a target on someone who is secured between the American Military who are leaving Afghanistan on 18th August 2021. Later we get to know that 3 days ago he got a contract from someone in Tel Aviv, Israel to eliminate a man for money. Slowly we are introduced to the entire past of Avinash, his career, and his family.
After a few minutes, we see Inayat Khan, a retired Police Officer sitting in a car and talking to someone on his phone and rushes towards a police barricade. As his car takes some damage from smashing into the barricades, he gets out of his with a gun in his hand and is shot down by the police force outside US Counselette. Then we are introduced to the past and life of Inayat Khan, his career, and his family, especially his daughter, Aliya Khan who got married to Mohsin Fazal, a family in Malaysia but soon their entire family has gone missing.
From there, Avinash, who was a great friend to Inayat and his family takes the responsibility to find Aliya, and from there we see that Aliya is now in war-torn Syria with her family which was radicalized into serving the Islamic State.
It is always a wonderful experience to watch something where Neeraj Pandey is involved. Although I do miss watching Neeraj Pandey’s projects on the big screens in cinema, he has found a great place in bringing his projects to OTT Platforms like Disney Plus Hotstar and Netflix. With projects like Special OPS, Special OPS 1.5: The Himmat Story, Khakee: The Bihar Chapter, and now The Freelancer, Neeraj Pandey has set his stories wide enough to be cherished.
As for the series, it was a fine experience to watch and enjoy, and it is worth bingeing as the suspense keeps on continuing about how Avinash will rescue Aliya from Syria, how he will deal with CIA and ISIS forces, his personal life was really interesting as well, and also how Aliya will bide her time till any kind of help or rescue reaches her.
We also get to see a mid-credit scene where we see the conclusion that will be carried on to a major plot in the next season for the series. I hope we get to see the next season soon, and hopefully with Neeraj Pandey as the director.
There are many things that I liked and disliked about the series, particularly the first season of The Freelancer. So let’s begin our sections where we discuss in detail the things below.
5 things I liked about The Freelancer:
- Right in the beginning we get to hear a fantastic background score when we see Aliya running from her husband and trying to escape from participating in ISIS and other terror activities. And we see more scores and music being carried out throughout the season.
- The bold casting of Mohit Raina was perfectly suited for the role. Mohit has been known for his role as Lord Shiva in Mahadev and Mahabharat. Since then, he has found it hard to get other roles because of the aura he carried in those 2 series. Although he did a good series that has not been watched by a lot of people, Bhaukaal, which has not been talked about because MX Player has kept on vanishing away from the mainstream content platforms and content providers. He was also in ‘Uri‘ movie as a side character.
- The VFX done by the artists was really good provided the fact that the Indian projects are not valued high enough by OTT Platforms and are given minimum budget to work under. Whether it was various chopper scenes, blasts happening all around, drone footage, blood splatters, and many more things were executed beautifully. Unlike other shows of Disney like She-Hulk, Secret Invasion, and more, VFX was much better in this series.
- The production design in the entire series was fantastic. Creating the design of a place like Syria and ISIS Camp, shootings held in Morocco, Dubai and Mumbai, everything looked like a part or the idea what was required for the story. Yes, it is expensive to travel to multiple countries to hold shootings, and we even see the scenes with Avinash being restricted to a particular house where he is shown to be living or a clinic where his wife is being taken care of, but it was nice to see the effort with which the production designers designed the entire ISIS camp.
- The way the writers have shown the way intelligence and technical reality work in Government and non-government works was wonderful to watch on screen. We see Avinash hiring lawyers and recording a statement for and against the US Government and CIA, or when we see Avinash creating paper trails when he wants to find out the location of Aliya when he writes an email about a family from Malaysia went missing and sends it to CNN, or even when Avinash instructs Sabeena about how to use the phone when she contacts Aliya and how to relay the messages.
5 things I disliked about The Freelancer:
- Right from the beginning, we get to see a confusing storyline that is carried throughout the season. In every episode, we are jumping from one time to another, from one character’s story to another. Yes, I know this is Neeraj Pandey’s style of narrating his stories, but I think this would have been better under his direction instead. Under Bhav Dhulia, the storytelling looked messy and the continuity was all over the place and it took a lot of time to get streamlined into one story.
- Writers or director rely more on the possibilities and imagination being shown and conveyed to the audience whenever we were not sure of what a character might have done in a certain scenario, and based on that belief, the story is continued further. There were moments when Arif and Avinash were just imagining things that might have happened with Aliya, and that was the sole thing that was given to us to rely on.
- The direction was never up to the mark in the entire series, which is not something we expect to see when Neeraj Pandey is involved. The story felt lengthy and stretchy right from the first episode and it took a lot of time to build on the viewer.
- Hollywood has learnt a concept that the viewers want to watch long and minimum-cuts action sequences. Whether it was Daredevil, or John Wick 4, we have currently seen a trend of long-take action sequences being filmed that look fantastic on the screen. And as a viewer of such movies and series, I expect such actions to be filmed, than a cut being taken at every small action that a character performs. Recently we saw such an action sequence in Animal, where we see Ranbir Kapoor performing a wonderful scene with an axe, and that entire scene was filmed brilliantly.
- There were so many filler and backstory scenes that felt useless and unwanted most of the time. Considering my experience, I was mostly skipping such scenes and I had to get back to the skip 10 seconds button again and again in every episode. As a scene ends, we see the director and editor focusing on long-shot scenery views that lasted for more than 20 seconds or scenes where we see a backstory or sequence of the past that could have been avoided and the length of the episode could have been shorter. And again, I think Animal is a movie that will revolutionize the filmmaking aspect of Indian cinema and soon we will see the makers focusing on the story narration aspect of their project, despite the length or backlashes it gets.